Victoria Moran of Los Angeles, CA is this month’s FAB Woman of the Month and we were SUPER excited that this busy wife, mother, loyal girlfriend, and psychotherapist was able to squeeze us into her schedule to share pieces of her journey, inspirations, lessons learned, and a few laughs. She has been recognized nationally in her field and is currently completing a pre-doctoral internship at Stanford University as one of the final requirements of her clinical psychology doctoral program at Pepperdine University in an effort to pursue her “calling” in transmute trauma while juggling family, friends, and fun, making her truly FABULOUS. Click here to read the full interview in it’s entirety…
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most?
Harriet Tubman, hands down is my biggest influence. She did not have any extraordinary characteristics like extreme wealth or resources like perfect health. What set her apart was her dogged persistence, as well as her extraordinary courage. Harriet Tubman did not rest once she attained her own freedom, rather she kept on facing danger – she kept on returning to the South to free more slaves. More of her sisters and brothers (both metaphorically and literally).
Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
My circumstances of having faced my mortality at 39 years old, recently married (for 2 years), and with a 1-year old child largely determined my present trajectory. I had a lot of time on my hands as I underwent multiple surgeries for my breast cancer diagnosis, as well as for my disposition of having the breast cancer gene (BRCA1). I used that time while I was going through 16 chemotherapy treatments to study for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). It was a welcomed distraction from being so sick that I had to crawl at times because I could not walk. Also, while undergoing chemotherapy and recovering from multiple surgeries the question loomed “WHAT NOW?” I had literally been given a second chance at life… As a sophomore in college at Howard University, I was the recipient of fabulous psychotherapy when my mother (also a BRCA1 breast cancer survivor) was diagnosed with cancer. Years later my circumstances inspired my own Harriet Tubman moment, “going back into the danger” by deciding to do what was done for me (transmute trauma), both in 1989 when my mother was diagnosed, and in 2009 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being a doctoral student and psychotherapist at Stanford University is very much a “full circle” moment for me.
As a woman pursuing a career in psychology, what has surprised you the most?
I need to address the intersection of being an African-American woman before I can fully answer that question. I would have thought that there would be more African-American female Clinical Psychologists (at present). We need more women of color (not just African Americans). The multi-cultural realities due to globalization necessitate a diversity of voices at the table. I see clients from Valenzuela, Russia, Yemen, Tunisia, Mongolia, Japan, Australia, France, England, India, China, Iran, Argentina, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Egypt, Mexico, and of course the United States. We need practitioners with increasing cultural sensitivities to be present at the table to transmute the trauma of students that may have lived and are continuing to live a “global existence.”
How has your personal journey impacted you as a business woman?
I was my mother’s primary caretaker during and in the aftermath of her being diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2000 – 2001. I was known for my “sense of calm” when I was working in Corporate America as a Regional Software Manager. The yelling (which sometime included profanity; more often than not) and the pressures to attain certain financial benchmarks paled in what ego strength it took to be by my mother’s bedside as she faced her mortality. Nothing has ever been as difficult – including undergoing 7 major surgeries/ 16 chemotherapy treatments in my personal journey towards health. Being my mother’s primary caretaker tempered me in ways that I could not imagine. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer (in 2009), I can still remember hugging my physician Dr. Dhir (that was wearing a camel colored cashmere sweater); and telling her that I was grateful for this “gift in embryo.” When she looked at me quizzically – I said “problems are gifts in embryo.” When I am faced with problems, I still express gratitude and ask “what is the opportunity in disguise” that this problem is bringing me. So many people in the public sphere solely delineate problems. If you are an individual that can go pass simply delineating the problem; and also concurrently outline a solution – you will be valued. I try not to voice my discontent until I can speak in a voice that is solution/remedy oriented. In that way, you will become a voice that is sought after verses a voice that is shunned.
Are you finding that women’s mental health issues are changing/have changed over the years due to more and more women becoming business owners, executives, heads of households, political leaders, etc.?
I think that generations (of women) living completely different lives than their mothers/grandmothers is a story as old as time. I was in first grade when the miniseries “Roots” played on television to U.S. audiences that sat mesmerized nightly. My parents, brother, and myself cried when they held the baby up to the stars. That very action let you know that the next generation was the “hope and the dream” of the slave(s); even though our ancestors may not know the exact trajectory of our journey(s). When I am at the library and I see the sun rise the next morning (having stayed up all night studying), I rest knowing that my maternal grandmother is in heaven rejoicing in me hurdling myself towards opportunities that were not laid before her. We would think it is child abuse (in the U.S.) to take a child out of school at 13 years old to clean homes (my maternal grandmother’s personal narrative). Hopefully (in the same vein), we will recognize the institutional racism and or sexism only to have a handful of women in corporate settings, educational settings, political settings, etc. My hope is that my 8-year old daughter will not continue my trajectory of having to be one of the “only” women of color in her respective setting(s). If she is however, I will inoculate her to what it is like to be one of the “only” in a setting like Valerie Jarrett (whom my daughter just heard speak 5/2017 at Spelman College’s graduation), Michelle Obama, Mae Jemison, and so many others.
Our (my daughter and my) theme for 2017 is BNP: “Bold not Perfect” and “Brave not Perfect.” So many women want to wait until the things are “perfect” – until they are “not afraid.” I continually encourage my clients/ daughter/ myself to “do it anyway!” I cite the books: Confidence Code, Getting to 50/50, Daring Greatly, Aint I a Woman, Womanist and Mujerista Psychologies: Voices of Fire, Acts of Courage; as references in my encouragement.
I also find that many of my female clients (across various settings) tend to blame themselves which is different from being “self-reflective.” The men on a whole blame their “contextual circumstances.” Part of my work with my female clients, by in large, is to help them “contextualize” their circumstances…affirm the personal as well as the professional circumstances that have allowed for their success, as well as to accept the inherent awe that they are thriving where the air is rare even if doing so means to always have to be ready (conceptually ready) to reach for an oxygen mask.
What are 3 guiding principals that have helped you along the way?
- I always try to do my best. I convey this by how hard I am willing to work, as well as by explicitly stating that “I am trying my best.” Often, I find women expect others to see that they are working their hardest/creatively focused without explicitly stating so. Men, on the other hand, often explicitly state the work that they are doing. I have learned over time, to both try my hardest and to explicitly state my efforts.
- I try to have a 1:1 relationship between what I say and what I do. In short, I try to be authentic. In a world filled with people content with being an echo, you will stand out BOTH if you have the courage to be yourself, as well as the strength to have a LINEAR relationship between your intentions and your actions.
- Be a team player and don’t be afraid to take credit for what you do. This also involves THANKING people continuously for their input. Often I find people equate weakness with sharing the limelight. It is quite the opposite – it shows that you are grounded in who you are and knowledgeable in what you represent when you can literally and metaphorically share the limelight. It is a sign of a weak and or novice leader when the dialogue revolves exclusively around “ME and I.”
How do you balance the demands of your professional life (work/career) and your personal life (family and self-care)?
To be a wife and mother AND be present in any capacity while taking full-time classes and maintaining a full-time therapy/assessment practice does not always result in “balance.” I make a conscience effort to counter my tremendously busy seasons at work with days where I completely unplug, work from bed in my pajamas, and spend deliberate time with my family like weekly date nights with my husband and stay-cations. This may be heresy to admit in public, but I think that balance is over-rated. I believe that living in alignment is a better sought after goal. I am not living a balanced life if I pull an all-nighter once a week for the duration of my doctoral program (which I did weekly while I was taking FT classes 2011 – 2015). However, I am living an exuberant life that is in ALIGNMENT with my goals. When my father retired he was one of 250 people in the U.S. that owned a multi-vendor automobile dealership. To do so, I grew up in an opulently beautiful home that often my Dad was “absent” from. He exuberantly lived his life because it was in alignment with his goals. I asked him once if he was going to “take off” on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. My Dad laughed and exclaimed that being a black man that is the owner of his own auto dealership is exactly what MLK, Jr. would have wanted.
What do you hope to inspire in others?
To live a life without limitations! BNP: Bold not perfect, and Brave not perfect. “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway!” Also if you want to do something “cutting edge” you may not have any role models. Do it anyway!!!
People thought I was crazy to start an ambitious doctoral journey (still bald from my cancer treatments when I took the GRE and not yet done with my required surgeries for being a BRCA1 breast cancer survivor. I did it anyway. There are some that thought I was crazy for marrying in 2007, after my first relationship ended in such a disastrous way in 2000. I got married anyway. Some thought a 75-100% travel schedule as a Regional Software Sales manager was crazy; especially traveling to territories that were predominantly white male enclaves. I did it anyway and posted record sales results.
In short, utilize your fear to energize you! Don’t run from your fear. Each and every time I ran away due to fear; not towards something in spite of my fear I regretted it. Do it anyway. Just like Harriet Tubman went on to lead slaves to freedom, again and again and again as an ordinary citizen. Each of us in our ordinariness is still equipped to do extraordinary things!
What does living a FABULOUS life mean to you?
Living a FABULOUS life means that I am living a life that has choices. That enables me to rest, to savor, and to serve others: while exponentially growing. Living a FABULOUS life means that I ENERGIZE with my attentions, and I TRANSFORM with my intentions, Living a FABULOUS life means that I look at problems as “opportunities/ gifts in embryo form.” Living a FABULOUS life means that I am willing to live BOLDLY not perfectly. And that I am willing to live BRAVELY not perfectly. Living a FABULOUS life means that I am willing to have my life serve as a template for success in which others can follow.
Run Towards The Fear – Vickie Moran
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