Rising Through Resilience: Dr Tiffanie Tate Moore On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times
An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
Exercise faith over fear. Sometimes the odds of something seems insurmountable, and that can be fearful, but do not let that stop you. The Bible notes in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1, “that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I had faith that I would become a physician, but as a child of two drug addicts that coming to fruition did not seem practical: yet here I am.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tiffanie Tate Moore.
She is a first-time author from Compton, California. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in cellular and developmental biology with a Black studies minor. After earning her medical doctorate degree from Meharry Medical College and completing her OB/GYN Internship at Naval Medical Center San Diego, she went on to serve as a General Medical Officer for the Sea Bees, the US Navy construction battalion. Dr. Moore completed her OB/GYN residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and practiced for 20 years before sustaining a hand injury that led to her medical retirement.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My parents broke up when I was an infant and my maternal aunt took custody of me when I was two years old. Both of my parents struggled with drug addiction, but I never met my father. My mother kept tabs on him as he was homeless. She noted he used a bad drug that destroyed his mind. His story made me have extra compassion for those living on the street because I used to think I could possibly be helping my own father unaware. My aunt was a hard worker and believed in community service. She instilled those same values in me. When I was a youth in middle school volunteering with my church’s mission, feeding the homeless from a roaming van throughout the streets of Los Angeles, I developed my desire to become a physician. That is why I love to give back to the community and serve others.
I have experienced a lot that has caused me to be resilient. I survived being shot in the back during a drive-by shooting, serving in the Navy during the Global War on Terrorism, being diagnosed with pericarditis, and a respiratory code in the hospital. I was a vibrant ob/gyn until I had to undergo six surgeries that left me with chronic pain and a permanent hand injury that forced me to medically retire in 2019. I then had to search within myself to determine what comes next because all seemed lost.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career?
I was covering the emergency room and a patient came in who was actively bleeding into her abdomen due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which is a pregnancy located outside of the uterus. Her vitals signs were not looking good and she needed surgery urgently. She and her boyfriend were both Caucasian, and he had a swastika tattoo on his arm. The ER doctor consulted me as I was the only GYN available because I was the “On call” physician. Her boyfriend requested a different doctor, but his request was denied because no one else was available.
Her life was at risk, and he had to decide whether he wanted to keep his girlfriend alive or have an issue with my race. His girlfriend wanted to live, so she agreed to proceed with the surgery she needed. He actually thanked me afterwards because the surgery I performed saved her life.
Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I learned that my surgical knowledge and skills could help combat racism. Prejudice is always a choice. When the rubber hits the road, we can always choose to be better people if we really want to.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I don’t have a company, but a book. My book, FloweTry: A Collection of 108 Poetic Flows on Life, Love, and Liturgical Issues is for anyone with a heartbeat who has ever been frustrated with life, love, or longed for a better relationship with God. The poems will take the reader on a journey designed to entertain, enlighten, and encourage the reader. Topics covered range from COVID-19, politics, Black history and police brutality, to community, love and religion. Here is one poem:
THE OTHER SIDE
The other side is often out of view,
Especially when there is a huge mountain before you.
Just take it day by day and one step at a time.
When you get past, this life will be sublime.
Life can be hard from time to time.
Sometimes you can be so broke you ain’t even got a dime.
If you keep moving, this phase will be temporary.
Push toward your goals and in self-pity, do not tarry.
Keep climbing the mountain even if you must slow your stride.
Once you get to the top, the view alone will fill you with self-pride.
If you give up and quit moving, you will never reach the other side.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mother was one of twelve kids. My grandmother believed in being fruitful and multiplying. My second to oldest maternal uncle has always been an academic role model for me, my Uncle Amen. He stressed the importance of staying in school and getting an education. He also made sure I spent my summers in educational programs. I essentially was very focused on my education. When I started middle school, I went with a leather brief case, not a back pack like normal kids.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to get back up and continue after being knocked down. The most important trait of a resilient person is determination. As a man thinketh, so is he. Insecurity and self-doubt will come after failure, but it is important to not let that stop you from getting back on track and continuing on your path. That is key to being resilient.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage is having the strength to do what is necessary and putting aside fear. Courage is when you show up to face a circumstance and you do not know the expected outcome. If you have previously tried and failed and yet are willing to try again, that speaks much more to your resiliency with a component of courage. Resilience is accepting that failure has already been an option and pushing past that fear.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I think of my mother when it comes to resilience. She struggled with drug addiction most of my life. She was in and out of rehab facilities, but she never gave up, and her resilience eventually paid off. It took a couple of decades, but she eventually kicked her habit.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I am a disabled veteran with multiple musculoskeletal issues, and yet, I complete half marathons, but I walk them. I had family and friends who laughed at me and told me I could not do it. From 2016–2018 I underwent six surgeries: bilateral knee, bilateral wrist, and left ankle surgery. My family and friends doubted me and said I could not resume my races. The joke is on them.
My last race this past September 2021 was the Mount Rushmore Vacation Race. Yes, it was very challenging, but no one is going to tell me what I cannot do. A positive mindset is key to resilience.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Right now I have hit my stride, but this moment was a long time coming. After spending most of my life working to become a physician, I was utterly devastated to have my profession taken away from me. I became depressed, but I hid it well with a fake smile that I painted on my face. I turned to writing to relieve my pain, which in turn subsequently gave birth to my book, FloweTry. Had I not had my existential crisis, I would not be where I am today.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I was fortunate to find God at an early age and that helped me significantly. I had to overcome my issues of abandonment as a child. I felt that my parents loved drugs more than they loved me, and it was a devastating blow to feel rejected on that level by the people who created you.
As an elementary school aged child, I would witness my mother use drugs. And when she was “high,” she would blame me for her life being bad. This was devastating to me. My mother became an example of what I did not want to become. Her behavior motivated me to never use drugs or get drunk.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
In my opinion, a person can become more resilient by doing the following:
- Do not be afraid to fail. FAIL stands for F-first, A-attempt, I-in, L-learning. We learn from our failures and improve on them in our subsequent attempts.
- Be kind to yourself. Sometimes, we are our own harshest critics. When I was unable to return to work, I felt useless, which caused me to spiral into a depression. I had to learn to show myself some compassion.
- Exercise faith over fear. Sometimes the odds of something seems insurmountable, and that can be fearful, but do not let that stop you. The Bible notes in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1, “that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I had faith that I would become a physician, but as a child of two drug addicts that coming to fruition did not seem practical: yet here I am.
- Accept your mistakes. Too often we think the world is over because we made a mistake. Mistakes happen and life goes on. A key to resilience is understanding that you are not your mistake and that tomorrow brings a new day and a fresh opportunity to start anew.
- Never give up. As long as there is breath in your body, you have the opportunity to keep trying.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
During this COVID-19 Pandemic I would highly recommend a vaccination movement. It is a movement that would actually benefit everyone. This virus is an equal opportunity killer. It does not care about your race, age, political affiliation, sexual preference, or religion. It saddens me that the vaccine has been politicized to the extent that it has. If you look back at the history of the USA and vaccines you will see that typically vaccination compliance normally leads to eradication or significant minimization of the illness. Unfortunately, due to our current situation that is not the case for COVID-19.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
I would love to sit down and talk to Oprah Winfrey. I am in awe of her life, and it would be a privilege to talk to her and share my life story with her because we have some similarities. I also think my life would make a great movie because it has been very dramatic.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!