How I Stopped Being a Tiger Mom to My Inner Child

 *Adapted from a speech presented at the Infinite Possibilities Train the Trainer conference in Santa Fe, NM May 2017.

Unfold....Photo by N.D.Mignone. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Unfold....Photo by N.D.Mignone. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

     Looking back on many monumental decisions of my life, I have found this quote by Anaïs Nin perfectly encapsulates that crucial moment when I eventually took the risk, jumped off proverbial cliff into the chasm of the unknown, and had to rely on faith to give me wings or a safety net. The adventurous part of life also has a sense of humor: Just when you think you have fear mastered, another lesson in the life workbook shows up to help you grow.

        A little over a year ago, I was still feeling a bit wobbly after some major life changes. Although the concepts of transformation, metaphysics, and faith in a magical universe were not new or complicated, I was at a point in my life where I needed reinforcement, community, and to feel grounded. Part of me wanted to teach and share this information, but when I contemplated this possibility, an all too familiar voice would speak:

You aren’t ready to teach this—you are a fraud-look at your life….”

“What do you have to add to this information—it’s already being taught?”

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

 

The Tiger Mom to my Inner Child

    I nick-named this inner voice my Tiger Mom. She’s been around forever. Tiger Mom is a term coined by an author a few years ago to describe mothers who book every last moment of their child’s day into learning and achieving to gain the competitive edge for achieving the socially-approved, outward measure of success. My internal voice was a Tiger Mom to my inner child. I had a to-do list for my to-do list, and every moment had to be onward and upward with no idle moments, no creativity, and no play time. DO DO DO.

   Tiger Mom did not always run the show, though. For instance, during my 20s I went “rogue” by living in Japan, teaching yoga, and traveling. My inner child felt creative and content, but Tiger Mom said I was being lazy and wasting my talent. So, I started climbing the corporate conformance ladder and earned an MBA to prove my worth. Then again in my 30s, I went “astray” with my own business teaching yoga and pilates, coaching, and consulting. Internally, I felt happy to help people find balance mentally and physically, but Tiger Mom said it was too "woo woo," and I needed more money and credentials to prove myself. This time I tried to compromise by earning another degree in something I loved: Metaphysics & Theology. Although this inspired my inner child, Tiger Mom discounted the achievement because the doctorate degree was not “mainstream” enough. She said I needed something more, to prove myself to the world. This led me to make the most logical decision ever for a mid-life career change: Go back to school. Law school.  

   All these years the Tiger Mom voice kept me motivated, goal-oriented, and focused, yet too busy and distracted from my feelings by always climbing, doing, achieving.  I appreciate this has served me well, and I have gratitude without regrets. But after a decade of practicing law, I had started to feel restless, and realized my inner child was too exhausted to play any more.

The Rebellion

   I realized I would lose the playfulness and creativity of that inner child forever (along with my health), if I did not advocate for her.  I left a toxic job, toxic relationships, toxic friendships, and toxic situations. I decluttered everything to start over. I had jumped off the cliff into the unknown—no job, no plan, no ideas—and I confess that it was not exactly the softest of landings. I hit emotional rock bottom. The Tiger-Mom tactics no longer worked, and I could not push myself to do anything. This was my dark night of the soul, and I felt worse than depressed—I felt apathetic.

   Even the metaphysical principles I had relied upon in prior years did not seem to work. Instead, I used them to internally berate myself up:  Shouldn’t I know better??? How had I gotten here? 

   Yet, just like the caterpillar has some inkling of what’s at the end of that food coma, I had this little fleck of hope stored inside. The inner child was holding that piece of faith, like a precious stone, for the right time, but since she had been pushed away for so long, she was waitingto be heard over the self-defeating internal chatter and the Tiger Mom.

Advocating for the Soul

   I rebuilt my life on my terms. I created freedom in my work, my living space, and my creativity. I connected with a community of people who are positive, encouraging, and adventurous. Along the way, Tiger Mom would occasionally show up to interject her opinions, but the inner child had become her own advocate by then, and she could assure the Tiger Mom it would all work out. “We got this.” 

   My life is perfectly imperfect in its gentle unfolding. When I opened to the playful side, listened to hunches, and had faith the path would unfold for me, I was able to open to its infinite possibilities.  My Tiger Mom had a role in my early life and I am grateful, but now she needs to be a team player with my creative, adventurous side.

Lessons Learned

   We each have our own journey. Others are there to show us our own path is possible rather than tell us to do it like they did. What I learned in this process is to 

              a.    Let go of some external concept of perfection;

              b.     Let go of controlling the process; and

               c.     Listen to and trust the inner voice.

   Embark on a journey that allows your soul to sing. What excites you? What would be audacious? What if what you deeply desired were possible? What could you imagine that to look and feel like?

   If you have been a Tiger Mom to your inner child, STOP.  Be an advocate for your soul, the one that has been calling you to live and love more deeply. Nurture your faith. Believe. The time is now.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and transform body, mind, and business. Check out the MYOB YouTube Channel for more MYOB tips.

 

Taking the Scenic Route

For the past few months, my VW and I have been doing our own version of 'Thelma & Louise' as we traveled from Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, to Austin, then Dallas, Texas; upward to Santa Fe, New Mexico; onward to Denver, Colorado, and then back through Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and finally returning to the starting point.

I had plenty of time to think, especially in the frequent patches without cellular service. I did notice that the more scenic routes were the ones without any cell service. This metaphor applies to my personal journey over the last few years, as I have slowly carved out a new path that, at times, had left me feeling disconnected from myself, others, and the world.

I know I am not alone in having had periods of time feeling disconnected. It seems to be part of the journey--this adventure of life. During personal times without a cell signal to the outside world, our senses can become heightened internally and externally. Like my road trip, when I stopped growling about the lack of a signal and started to look around, the perceived scenery of cow pastures, oil rigs, deserts, and mountains became more pronounced. 

This type of journey invites—actually demands—deep reflection. My two-year “inner road trip” forced me to reflect upon  how I had long resisted the call of my gypsy soul. For decades i had often “settled in” somewhere, but would eventually start to feel restless. Over the years, I had repeatedly received criticism for my bohemian spirit, and so I reluctantly tried to conform to what society expected from a "responsible adult professional.” 

My heart longed for more freedom, but my “logical” brain told her to be patient. A few years ago, though, when I had squeezed almost every ounce of creativity out of my soul and suffocated the internal voice pleading for freedom, it became painfully apparent that I could either become an advocate for that voice, or lose myself forever. So, I jumped off that proverbial cliff into the chasm of the unknown, and relied on a splinter of faith for either a safety net or wings: I decluttered toxins in my life, including work and people (and thoughts and beliefs), to embark on a new journey.

I will not sugarcoat this: It was not a very soft landing. But, I survived, and it did make me stronger. As challenging, dark, and lonely that path felt at times, internally I felt more emotionally alive than I had felt in the prior decades. Just as the caterpillar has an inkling of a better life at the end of that food coma, my inner voice had held tight to a belief that life happens for me, not to me, and everything would work itself out in the end.

And it did.

  • Once I gave myself permission to sleep, I felt rested.
  • Once I gave myself permission to experiment, life’s magic began unfolding for me, not against me.
  • Once I allowed myself to feel vulnerable, I felt stronger.
  • Once I allowed myself to be and receive love, more love flowed to me and through me.
  • And once I allowed myself to embrace my bohemian side (and accept the generous, hospitality of family and friends), I found that inner peace to settle in somewhere--for a little while, at least....

So, here I am at the end of one scenic route, ready to begin another magical adventure. As I stand on this precipice of another exciting leap into the unknown, my body, mind, and soul understand that I needed the previous two years’ journey—the scenic journey—so I can enjoy this next one. 

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM

Mobile, Alabama

Rocky Mountains in Colorado

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Communicate the Important Point Up Front

When discussing business topics in person or in writing, try to state the bottom line up front and be clear on your communication.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Looking At Both Sides

Before presenting your side for a negotiation or issues, it helps to understand both sides.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Question Everything!

Do not give your power away because you do not fully understand something. Question assumptions and gather the information you need to feel comfortable.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Know the Rules So You Can Bend Them!

Even if your aim is to venture down the road less travelled, it helps to know the rules of the road first. Bend the rules with knowledge to prevent any issues later on.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Introducing Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL): Ethics

Introducing a new series: Thinking Like A Lawyer.

Today's tip talks about adhering to a professional code of conduct--regardless of your business, it is a small world out there.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Time Segments

When confronted with a large or overwhelming task, rather than procrastinate, consider breaking it up into smaller segments.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Being Right vs. Being At Peace

When dealing with conflicts and challenges, consider whether you want to be right or be at peace.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

 

Just Jump In

You do not need to wait until you know everything before you start a new project. Just jump in and have faith you will find the information when you need it. Just jump in.

Minding Your Own Business is a series dedicated to helping professionals create infinite possibilities and balance body, mind, and business. For more information, please visit:

Minding Your Own Business on Facebook or the YouTube Channel

*Disclaimer: The Thinking Like A Lawyer (TLAL) Series is not legal advice, should not be considered as such, and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.