Music had been my first love. I began playing piano when I was just 5 and I wrote my first song at 15. But music wasn’t considered a real job back then, so I had fallen into a sales career.
In 2001, I met the man of my dreams and after 3 years, we got engaged. But the dream quickly turned into a nightmare, as the sweet and caring man I had met, turned into a complete Jekyll & Hyde almost overnight. I put it down to work stress, made excuses for his behaviour and believed we would work it out. One moment he would be kind and funny, but he could turn on me over the nothing.
I was frightened and confused, but vowed to support him, our first few years had been so magical. I began to self edit my words and behaviour in order not to “set him off” and slowly but surely, became half a person.
Living in prolonged stress does many things to your body and mind. I became really ill and lived with chronic pain for much of the time and I was trapped in my head with racing thoughts. I struggled with memory and couldn’t even make simple decisions.
Three and a half years passed like this, but when my brother died suddenly in 2009. the shock was enough to jolt me out of my mental fog and I decided to finally leave and even moved out. That’s when I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant with my first child.
Foolishly, I went back and by the time I was 38, I had 2 boys under 2 and had given up my corporate career to look after them. I had began running music sessions in the local church hall just 2 mornings a week and it was glorious but it didn’t pay well.
When the rage started being turned on my children, I went to see my parents and told them everything. My Dad promised to help me in whatever way he could and I left my childhood home, relieved for the first time in years that somebody knew what was going on and that we were going to get out.
I went home and started looking at places for us to live, but then 3 days later I took the call, My Dad had had a coughing fit and had been unable to breathe. He too was gone.
It took another 6 months for me to even find the strength to finally leave, but despite the divorce, we were still not “out.” My ex-husband moved 150 yards from me and continued to harrass and intimidate me.
I was diagnosed with PTSD and because of our experiences, my children suffered with anxiety, low confidence and behavioural issues such as hyperactivity and aggression. I was reactive, they were all over the place … it was one big hot mess.
When my youngest started school, I decided to take some time out to heal myself, so that I could become the parent I really wanted to be and it was the best decision I could ever have made. We went to therapy, we walked, I redecorated our home and I took up yoga and meditation. I took control of my mind and we had energy healings and Emotion Code sessions.
I retrained in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Hypnotherapy and shifted my mindset. I journaled and nourished myself with good food and sleep and did all the things that lit me up … put simply, I had a relationship with “myself.” The process completely transformed my perspective on life, how I wanted to show up and most importantly, how I parented my children.
At the time and because of our experiences with fear, one of my children found it difficult to be present or even follow simple instructions, so this meant getting out the door in the mornings was incredibly stressful. But then one day, when I was trying to get him to brush his teeth for the fifteenth time, a song came on the stereo and … he just started singing it. I couldn’t believe it! Music had gone straight in where my words had failed and I realised, I had found a way to reach him.
So at first, I started writing songs just to help me out with the little things. Getting their shoes on, brushing their teeth and songs to help them with bedtimes and dropping them off for school. But they went in so quickly and worked like a charm. So I started taking them into my music sessions … and they worked like a charm with everyone else’s children too.
That’s when I wondered if I could teach them much more important lessons. The things that had helped me go from fear to love. You see, the beliefs that we form in early childhood, are use to run the rest of our lives on a 95% subconscious basis. The way that we think and feel about ourselves and the world before age 7, has the biggest impact on whether we will go onto live to their full potential.
This imprinting stage goes onto shape our entire lives, but when you combine this knowledge with the power that music has to go straight into the unconscious mind, it starts to get really exciting. You see, music stays in the mind like really nothing else can and it’s why you don’t remember anything your parents told you when you were 3, but you remember ALL the songs.
It’s why we use music to teach counting and the alphabet, because when you put complex information into a song, it goes in. So I began writing songs to help my children tune into their bodies I wrote songs to help them understand their internal worlds of thoughts and feelings and to teach them that they were enough.
I wrote songs to do EFT or tapping with, to teach them about courage, gratitude and how to choose happiness. I wanted to teach them everything I had learned on the journey back to myself, but by now I had become really playful with my life, so it had to be fun for me too. So whilst there were some children’s style songs, I also wrote house tracks and rock tracks and we did Air Guitar.
They loved it and were singing all the songs constantly. I had been raising my 2 children single handedly, but with all the work we had done, they were now thriving and I knew my work could help other parents too. So I started getting up at 5am.
I learned tech, I designed a puppet and filmed the songs in my home with my kids. I combined it with everything I had learned about wellbeing and raising two kids alone, so that I could help other parents become intentional in raising whole hearted children too and in 2019, the beta version of The Raise a Tiger Programme was born. 2 albums followed and I went on to do a TEDx talk about my work later that year.
It’s been 3 years since I delivered my last music session in that village hall to follow my dream of empowering children with music and my boys and I continue to go from strength to strength. I am so grateful for my experiences and the lessons they brought me and I will never allow another to define me again. I love that I get to choose what I think, how to feel, who I am and what I am capable of, but what I love more is that I get to teach that to children in a way that will stay with them forever.
You can find Rachel and her work at https://www.lalatigers.com
Watch my TEDx talk here
Fantastic females HERE