I love connecting with other life coaches, so I was more than thrilled to connect with Rachel Cole. When I read that Rachel had recovered from an eating disorder, I knew I had to connect with her and see what she is all about. I hope you enjoy reading about this Kick-Ass Woman as much as I did.
Rachel Cole is a fiercely loving, wise-beyond-her-years, gap-toothed life coach and creative project maven. The common ingredient all of Rachel’s varied endeavors is a passion for inspiring people to craft well-fed, compassionate, and connected lives. Her driving question for all of us is “What are you TRULY hungry for?” Rachel can be found creating and coaching from her kitchen table in Oakland, California. You can read more about her at http://rachelwcole.com and follow her on Twitter.
1. I love your tagline: “What are you TRULY hungry for?” What made you choose it and what do you most commonly hear from women regarding this question?
I believe that we each have a common thread that runs throughout our whole lives. Sort of like we each have an overlook we return to again and again as we climb the mountain of life. For me this is hungers. They are the defining metaphor for my life.
The work that I do is very much, for lack of a less-cliche word, a calling for me. My work is a natural expression of myself on my own journey up the mountain. The question, “What are you TRULY hungry for?” is the question that drives me, that orients me, that I return to, and that I’m most curious about. It’s been so rewarding to see that by asking it others are reconnecting to what is needed now, for them.
As for the most common answers, they typically fall under the umbrella of permission. Permission to want what they want. Permission to say yes or no. Permission to be different (which is really about being authentic).
2. Can you tell us briefly about your struggles with an eating disorder and how you came to recovery?
I have to say this question gives me a good laugh. My answer in short is “That’s my memoirs.” Since that’s not published yet, I’ll try to give you a meaningful, single-page answer.
I became anorexic when I was in college and was most intensely unwell during my junior year. I did fully recover from anorexia though after moving to California I developed orthorexia and once again fully recovered. While I never say never, I do feel like I am solidly at peace with food and my body. I wouldn’t do the work I do unless I was beyond stable and healthy.
The origins of my illness were like those of most others, part genetic, part cultural messages, part dieting as a ‘gateway drug’, part spiritual disconnection, and so forth.
Recovery, for me has been a patchwork quilt, a beautiful patchwork quilt.
At the core, I think that I was born with a determination for life and understanding. Not everyone has this. My determination fueled my recovery, no doubt.
I never wanted to be sick, or even thin, really. I wanted to be soothed, to feel at ease, to know that I was lovable and enough, to feel powerful…I really do think that eating disorders happen when it’s the best way someone knows to take care of themselves. That’s right. I think eating disorders are a way of meeting a need that we don’t otherwise know how to meet. They are an unhealthy, destructive, dangerous way of meeting these needs, but they do nonetheless, provide us with something.
I learned to meet my needs in better ways through working with excellent psychotherapists, embracing a Health at Every Size mentality, going though a 10-month Dialectical Behavioral Skills-Based Program, studying spirituality and (especially Buddhism), Metta meditation, having my own spiritual awakening, and reading, lots and lots of reading, including books by Eckhart Tolle, Geneen Roth, Cheri Huber, Elizabeth Lesser, Tara Brach, and so many others.
Every person I worked with, every conversation I had with my soul while crying on the floor of my bedroom, every book I read, every decision I made to feed my deepest hungers when I was pulled to denying them – these are all squares in the quilt that makes up my recovery.
3. What have you learned about yourself from your eating disorder?
That my true hungers are always spot on if I listen to them and don’t judge them.
I know that true hungers move me towards myself whereas false hungers move me farther away. This applies to everything from potato chips to time in nature…neither is inherently a bad or good hunger…it’s a moment by moment practice of checking with myself.
I have also learned that I am mighty. Post-recovery I have felt every day that there is nothing I couldn’t handle. Such a gift.
4. What is your biggest wish for all women?
I wish all women would allow the discomfort that sometimes comes with getting quiet. I wish all women would release the judgements and lies of insufficiency they put upon themselves (and that are most easily seen when quiet). I wish all women would come to embrace their hungers as their north star and simply walk towards them.
5. What is your #1 tip for self-love and self-acceptance?
It’s a practice. It’s a starting everyday with the deepest intention to be kind and to release the patterns of self-loathing. It’s a practice that, over time, does become second nature. This practice of self-kindness is also, in my opinion, the highest form of service because it is only when we are at peace with ourselves can we bring peace to others and make loving connections.
6. What are you loving right now?
I’m about to release, The Choose Love Project, an exciting collaboration with Lori Race. The CLP is a collection of letters from 100 women to themselves at the age when they stood at a crossroads between loving their bodies and continuing to be at war with themselves. It is beautiful, deeply important to me and I can’t wait to spread it far and wide. Stay tuned!!!
7. Describe Rachel Cole in 5 words.
Here’s 6: Solid, Aesthetically-Keen, Compassionate, Creative, Intuitive, and Inimitable.