Cat From The Mat

When Did I Become a Ma'am?

Years ago, when on-location for a film shoot in southern California, I was directing my crew through the walkie-talkie.  After completing a request, my production assistant responded by saying "Yes, Sir," followed by an apologetic "I meant Ma'am."  After a momentary pause and a giggle, my rebuttal was, "I prefer Sir."  Although it was a joke, I wonder if that term was too feminine for my producer persona within the male-dominated industry.  I valued respect but wasn't ready to embrace my ma'am-dom.
Cut to a decade later, now with a full head of silver locks (along with current colorful streaks of blue and purple), I'm noticing my reaction to this language again. When exactly did I become a ma'am?  Was it overnight or did it occur gradually?  Why do I still feel like a cheeky monkey when others might see my natural hair color before my youthful energy? 

In early February, we crossed the threshold into the Chinese Year of the Fire Monkey. Like Curious George, monkeys have an inquisitive nature. That, added to the element of fire, represents bold and bright authenticity to help illuminate any intentional direction. Born in a monkey year myself, I have already felt a surge of power, play, and curiosity as I delve into this new year with my fellow primates dressed as humans.

Based on a blog at, there are two mindsets that most humans assume: Fixed or Growth.  A person with a fixed mindset is usually set in stone, where his/her actions are based on being a success.  Therefore, the motivation is always one of proving oneself with an unsatisfied hunger for approval.  This 24/7 attempt to avoid failure seems exhausting and yet might be all too familiar.

Seeing conventional failures as lessons to be learned, a growth mindset focuses on learning.  The goal of succeeding is replaced with the process of discovery.  Instead of being motivating to prove self-worth, there's more room for creativity, wonder, and constructive challenge.  This mindset thus sees defeat as a lack of growing rather than being unsuccessful.  To me, this is a more healthy and rewarding way to live.

Are you open to learning or settled in your ways?  Are you growing or just getting older? Is your journey finished, slowing down, or is it just getting started? Yoga is about being adaptable, so that every situation you experience can be full of lessons and opportunities in which to expand your sense of self.  When you are more compassionate towards yourself, you can be more curious and compassionate with others. 

To celebrate this Fire Monkey Year, I encourage you to check in with your inner-ape and see how you wish to relate to your challenges and still manifest your fullest potential. As a full-fledged Ma'am and ongoing Sir these days, I do not wish to waste any more of my valuable time on self-doubt or undermining my sense of trust.  I hope to monkey around my inner terrain in more empathic ways, with childlike awe that I never want to lose.   

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."  Ralph Waldo Emerson


Cat From the Mat

February 2016