Updated: Sep 13, 2019
I was recently asked to prepare for an interview about being a Parent and an Entrepreneur. Sitting to write, this just floated out.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
I went into business at age 38 and the business came to me. I was an Occupational Therapist and people would seek me out. I couldn’t see all the clients that people were asking me to do. I have been taught in my yoga and meditation trainings to recognize that there is often a hidden blessing when something comes to you that you haven’t sought after. After a few months a healthcare contracting business was launched. Within 6 months I had about 10 therapists working for me and I was assigning them clients in NYC and competing for business alongside the larger more established companies. I loved it and it was so expansive for my development. I always found creativity in making things happen, and I also offered seminars to therapists.
What decisions led you to become a parent late in life?
Its funny but this was a decision that I made when I was 22. I was living at the time with my partner and on one side of the house was a young mother my age who had no freedom and was holed up all day with 2 young boys under two years old, and frankly was quite miserable. Her young husband worked long hours and she basically never left the house. She didn’t have many options in those days. On the other side of the house were 2 couples who had professional degrees, teachers and therapists who seemed to be enjoying life a lot more, had more freedom and choices. Without realizing it, I chose to become an Occupational Therapist so I could have freedom to support myself. I found that my freedom was so important that I delayed becoming a mother.
How did you become a single parent of an adopted child from Russia?
I was in my forties and very enmeshed as a businesswoman, my mother would literally open the door when I visited her and say, “ Why don’t you adopt” “so and so is doing it”. She really knew I wanted to be a parent and supported me to adopt. The rest of the story is completely filled with miracles. I was living in a meditation center at the time. I had no money to do the adoption. I just had my faith that I was supposed to be a mother. I still had a business, a preschool and 15 therapists working for me. In a meditation one day, I saw a blonde toddler walking towards me. I immediately knew this was my child. I had previously sent in my papers to adopt from China. I rushed to my office and phoned the INS office, anticipating the answering machine. But they answered, found my file and changed my papers to Russia. A relative decided to fund the entire adoption, a friend offered to accompany me, and critical adoption papers that were lost in transit, turned up at my door. The morning of our flight we still didn’t have our tickets, and the adoption agency send a truck to deliver this to us. This was 1996 so we didn’t have the technology we have now. We boarded the plane to Russia. Two weeks later, and many more bureaucratic hurdles, I returned with this beautiful toddler who is now 20 years old.
NOTE: This interview is from 2013, and now this June I will return to Russia with my daughter, to see her roots.
How did you have the courage to be a single parent and an entrepreneur?
In 1974, I met a meditation master and I studied his teaching for many years. I traveled to India to live with him for 1.5 years and toured around the country for 4-5 years assisting his mission. He taught us that God dwelled within you as you. Touring with my teacher, I saw many obstacles dissolve in the face of love and truth. I had doubts as anyone would, but as I imbibed his message and as I practiced meditation, an inner resolve grew in my heart that couldn’t be easily ignored. I knew the power of love, and the power of looking within to find it. It was not something outside of oneself but within the heart of every human being. I learned to look within myself for the truth and to face it, no matter how painful, or hard. It taught me also how to trust the flow of grace, and to trust that things have their own way of working out. This gave me the strength to go for the adoption when I had no idea how it would all work out. This also has been a guiding light in my business and became the truth I lived by as I was parenting.
How did meditation help you as a parent ?
As a parent, there were many obstacles, financial, emotional and practical. I would continue my meditation practice, to sit quietly, pause and ask for guidance. I learned to listen to my inner voice. In parenting, often there are circumstances that require adjustments, refining, investigating. I would always turn to mediation and contemplation for my answers. Even when I couldn’t formerly mediate or sit with closed eyes, I would watch my breath while on the playground, repeat a mantra or practice hatha yoga as a way to quiet the mind and hear the small voice of the inner self. Whether you are cooking and preparing food, washing dishes or cleaning you can be meditating, while focusing on the breath and seeing God in everything you do and in everyone. My teacher taught us “The heart is at the center of all that is sacred. Dive in there.
How did being an entrepreneur help your parenting?
I came into parenting very late in life and it was a very conscious decision. I wanted to have as much time as I could with my child. I always had a private practice or business and worked around the hours my daughter was in school that allowed me the maximum flexibility. When this wasn’t possible, I did the best I could. Being an entrepreneur allowed me to have the freedom I wanted to do special things with my daughter and be there after school for her as she grew up. Even now though she is 20, and I travel often and have a new business again, I like that I can work from home and we can check in easily that way.
What drives your passion for teaching, coaching, Integrative Medicine and to keep recreating yourself
There are times when I feel very low just like anyone else. When that happens, I sit for meditation and tune into my body and mind and examine and explore the root of the stress or unhappiness. I acknowledge it and take action by both moving towards, away or letting something fall away. This has fueled me for decades, helped me to cure myself of illness and defined me. I know I can assist others to learn these methods and I love teaching.
Barbara Neiman is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Yoga and Mindfulness teacher, Body-Mind Centering Practitioner, and a National Presenter & Educator. She is the author of The Adopted Teen Workbook, My Calm Place Card Deck and Mindfulness and Yoga Skills for Children and Adolescents. She offers courses and coaching online and in-person to schools and agencies around the country.