One of the thing that has helped me enormously in my recovery from involuntary childlessness has been hearing other women’s stories. Over the last few years I’ve got to know some amazing childless women and it’s been a privilege and a delight that I wanted to share with you. I know that it would have made a huge difference to me when I was still struggling if I’d been able to eavesdrop on conversations between women who’d recovered from their childlessness and were moving on in ways that felt meaningful to them. Firstly, because I didn’t know women like that, and secondly because these conversations weren’t (and still aren’t) part of the mainstream narrative. It seems that the media is still stuck on shaming, untrue and unhelpful stereotypes such as the ‘selfish’ childfree women and ‘foolish’ childless ones. It is my hope that this interview series will go some way towards shifting that.
This video interview with Alicia Orre, a location-independent modern lifestyle business mentor currently based in Ibiza, Spain was recorded in September 2015.
In this frank, friendly and taboo-busting discussion we discuss, amongst other things:
- Meeting each other in 2011 at a Women Unlimited event for women entrepreneurs, and how the new way to do business is to bring the feminine energy in – by being collaborative, helpful, generous and friendly. And how Alicia’s approach felt so inspiring to me at the time when I was just finding my way in the very early days of Gateway Women.
- Alicia’s story of the last decade of her life as she struggled through the heartbreak of repeated miscarriages, and how she chose to stop trying to become a mother upon turning 40. We talk about how her life has changed dramatically since those days, beginning with her departure from the ‘traditional’ working environment (and the pain of watching other women become mothers) to becoming an entrepreneur, the evolution of her business from that of a Virtual Assistant to a Modern Lifestyle Business Mentor, how Chronic Fatigue syndrome helped her to work out her priorities for life, leading to divorce, a streamlined business offering and a location-independent life currently based in Ibiza, Spain.
- Our shared experience of divorce being part of our Plan B transition, how involuntary childlessness impacts relationships and how the breakdown of relationships is never as straightforward as ‘this caused that’. We discuss some of the longitudinal research on relationships post-infertility which I explore in the revised and expanded edition of my book (out with Bluebird PanMacmillan in Feb 2016), and which shows that those relationships which survive infertility often go on to be very long-lasting).
- What Alicia’s ‘location independent’ Plan B actually involves and what it’s like to make something that was always part of your dream – living in the sun – a reality. Alicia talks about the shift from a big ‘family home’ in the suburbs of London to a one-bedroom apartment in Ibiza and how she now days spends her days working from café’s and hotels, running her business from a laptop. And how she organises and maintains her 30-hour working week so that she has time to enjoy the benefits of her lifestyle too, even in the week when she launched her new website, positioning and name!
- How ‘meaning’ is at the core of both of our work, and how often it seems that the kind of ‘business building’ advice you find on the internet is about making easy money, whereas focusing on what is genuinely meaningful for each person, and then helping them build their life around that feels more authentic. And how it takes time to move beyond what we might think we are driven by, in order to tune into what success really looks like for each person.
- We talk about ‘freedom’, that really loaded word that those of us who are childless have flung at us in those, ‘Oh, but you have your freedom!’ comments, and how hard that is to deal with when you’re still grieving. For both of us, renegotiating our relationship with our ‘freedom’ and the space that opened in our lives because we didn’t become mothers has been crucial to our healing. And how we both love that freedom now…
- The similarities between being ‘maternal’ and the approach Alicia takes with her one-to-one clients as she remains ‘alongside’ them through their life/business building journey, helping them to work out what’s really important and meaningful to them, supporting them as they ‘grow up’ their ideas and being there to give them a ‘kick up the bum’ or a ‘kiss-kiss nudge-nudge’ as needed to keep them on track!
- We talk about the difficult ‘helpful’ remarks that people make to those of us who are childless or childfree (what we call ‘bingos’ at Gateway Women because in a really bad day we can get a full house!) And, as two single women who live alone with their cats, we talk about the ‘crazy cat lady’ stereotype and how it’s a ‘jokey’ way to be offensive.
- And what’s next for Alicia now that’s her life is settling into its new Plan B pattern after the massive shift of recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, childlessness, divorce, relocation to Ibiza and the streamlining and relaunch of her business! She shares that she’s happy to be able to focus on making her business and one-to-one clients the main focus of her life again, keeping it to an enviable 30-hours a week including speaking at events and workshops and having the time and health to enjoy her wonderful Ibiza lifestyle… Although she does talk about a tantalisingly attractive idea of hosting ‘business retreats’ in Ibiza in the future for entrepreneurs to come and experience her relaxed, efficient, holistic and feminine approach to business building. Sign me up!
Alicia Orre is a modern lifestyle business mentor who works globally with clients out of her base in Ibiza, Spain. Do sign up for her weekly blog (which can always be read in under a minute for the best tools and tips for online businesses I know)