So on this episode I speak to the wonderfully dry and witty Rachel Waters, an old colleague of mine from my management consulting days at EY, or Ernst&Young, which we refer to frequently, a demanding client facing job which back in my corporate life required a lot of travel and long hours... Rachel and I covered a swathe of topics, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and a particularly pertinent theme that stood out to me is the concept of life plans. We can have a propensity in this modern age to wed ourselves to life’s ‘path’, whatever that means, of the exams, the uni or college, the job, the boyfriend/girlfriend, moving in, engaged, marriage and babies, and then… not sure. We are mostly at that blissfully naive early adulthood point in our 20s and 30s where for many of us life hasn’t really ‘happened’, yet - big crises, big disasters, chronic illness - they’re for later. Aren’t they?
So what Rachel shone a light on was the the fickle nature of our universe and how plans are upended when life does indeed ‘happen’ and the path deviates. Her journey to where she is now professionally in part stemmed from this upending of her life, where Rachel was brave enough to discuss getting a divorce at a young age and embarking on a move to a new city in a quest to reclaim her ‘path’ and figure out where it was all going. What follows in the conversation is a fascinating foray into her experiences of life happening - from fertility challenges, love in the modern era and online, miscarriage, the impact of pregnancy on our hormones and mental health, the use of medication to rebalance oneself chemically, as well as the death of her own dad and the tragic loss of a friend’s baby. Life, indeed, does happen to us all. Baby losses do happen, people close to us do die, or get ill, pandemics scupper weddings, careers and relationships, and rarely does anyone follow the predicted straight line to… well who knows where. We are very accustomed to focusing on the forward rather than where we are standing right now, the standing still, so when the universe decides to challenge us and throw everything out the window from what we had planned it can be distressing, destroying and devastating to us - but also, in destruction we can find creation, and it can be renewing, replenishing and rejuvenating. The cyclone ends, and the sun returns.
What I really liked about Rachel and this episode in general is that it is like a true reflection of life in a strange sort of nutshell. There were really funny moments, us both using laughter as a mechanism to deal with things that are dark, meaningful and difficult, moments of beauty and the ridiculous in things that are sad, and ultimately it just felt like a very smooth conversation late at night with a bottle of red, when in reality it was extremely early in the morning after a lot of technical difficulties, a sleepless night and a LOT of coffee. It made me highly reflective and grateful for what I have, and philosophical about our need to stay a little more present. So, I hope in this moment you enjoy this episode and have some reflections of your own. Enjoy, as usual, I can’t wait to hear what you think. Follow me on twitter @newleafpodcast to continue the conversation.