From Tragedy to Triumph: The Power of Letting Go
Kytka “Kit” Hilmar-Jezek is one of the most charismatic people you will ever meet. Her energy and enthusiasm just never seem to run out. She is constantly “taking life to the next level,” as she calls it. An entrepreneur with a passion for social media and live events, Kytka is an inspirational powerhouse with a lifelong love of learning which has driven her to read over 10,000 books and attend over $100,000 in personal development, NLP and wealth building seminars (all of which she was asked to attend as a guest). She has lived everywhere from Prague in the Czech Republic to Los Angeles, California to Maui, Hawaii to Seattle, Washington to Tampa, Florida, Belize, Costa Rica, but when asked her favorite place to live she flashes a brilliant smile and replies, “In the present moment!”
Her three children follow in their mother’s hard-working, resourceful, and creative footsteps. Zachary, now 19, wrote his first book at the age of 10 and currently maintains four websites. He is a professional model, raw foods speaker, skateboarder, participates in youth leadership events, and has become an accomplished Reiki Master and a Shaman. Zanna, 13, maintains an inspirational blog on the subject of empowering girls to be beautiful from within rather than bowing to peer pressure, cliques, and superficiality. She wrote a book on goal setting for girls. Zynnia, 11, is the family sunshine, lighting up rooms with her infectious smile, creating video interviews with today’s thought leaders, posting notes of encouragement in conspicuous places (including the internet), and thoughtfully preparing snacks & thank you notes for loved ones.
The family speaks three languages, maintains over 50 websites, has authored books, founded successful organizations, and received national awards and accolades. It might surprise you, then, to find out that these powerhouse people have been homeless, penniless, wrongfully imprisoned and totally destitute.
Here is their story:
Kytka and her children had been living in Costa Rica for about 6 years. They loved the people, the rain forests, the food, how the mountains would meet the sea, the wildlife and the culture of Central America. They loved the fact that the country has no army, is known as the “happiest place of earth” and that the National saying is “Pura Vida” meaning “Pure Life”, a life they had built for their family. They lived in a home they still describe as “the beautifulest place on earth straight off our vision board.” And then in 2007 their idyllic life took a bizarre turn.
A view from Kytka’s home in Costa Rica…
Kytka’s business partner wanted to date her. When she turned him down, he stalked her, abused her, harassed her, threatened her, attacked her, beat her, strangled her and almost killed her. She went to the police for protection, but due to rampant corruption, her partner was able to bribe the authorities into “losing” the documentation of the assault. When she turned to the American Embassy for help, her partner turned to the Costa Rican Department of Immigration and had her arrested and set up for deportation on bogus charges.
Not one to passively accept injustice, Kytka fought bravely for 59 days within their horrific Central American jail before she was forcibly deported against her will. To survive within that environment and not completely break down, she turned her fear into fury and became an advocate for the other prisoner’s rights, risking her own security and life by calling other Embassies, press and human rights groups to investigate the mistreatment of her Panamanian, Columbian and Nicaraguan cell mates enraging the head of immigration who she knew was the one who accepted the corrupt money to make her life hell.
To get an inside view of what she endured for those 59 days, you may watch this 6 minute video – it is within a prison and you see how they treat the foreigners. Watch why you should not touch the walls, look at the facilities…
[Note added by Kytka: In the immigration detention center, you have a mixture of men and women (co-ed). Most people do not realize that only approx. 15% have passport issues, the rest are hardened criminals who did 5, 10, 20, 30 years for murder, rape, drug trafficking, etc. The process is that the foreign criminals serve time for their crimes, and on the day of their release – they are met at the gates of the national prison system by immigration who takes them to the immigration detention center because, obviously, their passports have expired. Therefore, you have a mix of men and women, maximum security level prisoners, in a low security prison mixed with a few regular tourists who had their passports stolen, or who overstayed their departure dates. Very few can imagine the atrocities I witnessed within those walls – many unspeakable, totally illegal and against human rights and United Nations laws, daily.]
After her 59 day ordeal, she ended up losing everything she owned – all $2.5 million worth of assets – to the man who tried to kill her. Aside from the agony of knowing that a violent predator was freely enjoying her dream home, her nice vehicles, her family’s pets, her bank account, her prized possessions, and four generations of her family’s money, her faith in people and her faith in justice were shattered, and everything she had known as “self” had been brutally stripped from her. When she returned to the USA she was severely dehydrated, malnutritioned and weighed only 89 pounds at 5′ 9″. It wasn’t just a tragedy for Kytka. It was a horrific tragedy and betrayal and a crisis of faith and identity for her entire family.
Many people would never recover from such a blow, but the Jezek family not only recovered, they blossomed. Through the tragedy, the hardship, and the culture-shock they faced upon returning to the U.S. (circumstances that would cause most families to fall apart), Kytka and her children grew stronger and closer. How? Her son Zachary took rapid action, contacted Tony Robbins and the family was invited to meet Mr. Robbins one on one. After almost three hours sitting alone with Tony, Kytka decided that she had to find her strength and faith again. Kytka says, “I decided to forgive and to let go and allow. I liberated myself from the prison of the mind. I said goodbye to the victim.” Her children followed suit.
Challenged by Anthony Robbins himself to rise above it, the entire family “Steps Up!”
Now they all approach life with a new perspective and a hard-earned wisdom. “Our favorite time is now, because we all realize that everything can change in an instant and that the present moment is all we really have. We are filled with gratitude for this day,” Kytka says of her family. Ever the optimist, Kytka believes that this is just one of many experiences that has allowed her home-schooled children to gain a more useful and comprehensive education than they would have received in a classroom. Because of their worldwide travels and personal tragedies, “They have hands-on experience in conflict resolution, breaking language barriers, bridging cultural differences and finding solutions,” she points out.
Having bounced back from their crisis with a new appreciation for life and living, the Jezek family is dedicated to helping others. They live with the passionate intensity of people who know their purpose. In fact, when asked about her personal mission in life, Kytka says, “I am committed to use my life as an example of all of the possibilities open to you.”
If anyone can, this family can.
Each and Every Day Is A Gift