Heading into the second week of my Life Design Lab course, Leannah’s challenge was to design the life we could see in front of us. Dude, that’s why we’re here! We’d learnt and accepted so much about ourselves, but we didn’t have any solid answers yet. But we were to take stock of where we were at this point, what we were working on, what was most likely to happen next, and how would we want that to pan out over the next five years. Yikes! I tackled it within the framework I had, and with the priority to make money for, you know, bills and stuff. Once this first iteration of life was planned out, we were told it was impossible. If we couldn’t do any of that stuff, what was plan B? And then once that was down, we wrote a third life design – what if money wasn’t an issue, what if there was no self-doubt, we’d excel at anything we tried… This was the big surprise. Mine involved writing a novel, starting a podcast, overthrowing the patriarchy and, in the fifth year, becoming prime minister so I could fix everything. Whaaaaaat! Where on earth had that come from? Well, from me. Not that I wanted to become a politician, I just wanted to be in a position of such influence that I could create some serious shifts in society – to make equality a reality, and poverty and struggle a thing of the past. Nothing too ambitious then, right?!!
The next day I was in the spotlight. I had to tell the girls about my three life designs while they listened and took notes, and then challenged me on everything I’d said. ‘The podcast keeps coming up in the different life designs – why?’ Because I want to explore the myths and stories I listened to as a child, but from a feminist perspective, and I think a podcast would be a beautiful way to do this. ‘Why did the novel only appear in the third iteration, where money and ability were of no concern?’ Good question. Was it something I truly wanted to attempt? Yes. And apparently my energy soared and my face lit up when talking about using my platform to speak honestly, empower women and girls, to overthrow the patriarchy and ‘convince stupid old white men to shut up and stand down’.
Following this, we were all given post-its to write as many ideas as possible to kickstart Lily’s New Life. I received dozens of ideas that were simple, made so much sense, and put me on a path to where I wanted to go. I was challenged to just start the podcast – and we made a plan to meet up the following week to record something. This was exciting! It also became clear that I just needed to write, to create, and stop blocking myself. I’d done a few strengths-finder tests online, and creativity consistently came up – plus I also had the testament of my close friends. I did a Talent Dynamics profile test, at a cost, which put me solidly in the role of Creator. I couldn’t deny any more, despite my insecurities, that I needed a creative outlet. I was to plan a solo retreat for a few days and just see what came out of my brain (spoiler: this blog). As a collaborative effort and with our combined energy and brainpower, where the girls had my back, could see me for what I was capable of and truly believed in me – it was as exhilarating as the obstacle course.
Amritha was in the spotlight the following day, and Tanya the day after that. It was just as empowering to become a part of their story as it was to have them help with mine. These women have serious ambitions, things that, like me, they didn’t fully realise they wanted, and all three of us were concerned, in our own ways, with empowering and championing women, creating beautiful content and experiences, bringing people together and being a force in the world. Amritha’s stunning music platform is just the tip of the iceberg – check out her incredible voice and join her fab SoulTribe on Instagram. As for Tanya, her gift for hunting out beautiful things and unique places is going to turn into one hell of an experience empire (unless I can convince her to curate my own life full-time). Life Design Lab came to an end with all of us buzzing at what we’d achieved, realised and uncovered. I felt so grateful to have these girls in my life now, and I was invested in their journeys that had become inextricably linked to my own.
Tanya Swift, Liloncé and Amritha Franklin met in Uluwatu the following week as planned for our own LDL finale. It’s the beautiful, southernmost tip of the island of Bali and a surfer’s paradise. Tanya and I spent a couple of days there together #livingourbestlives at stunning beach clubs she found, dancing, losing debit cards, failing to trip on mushrooms and generally letting off steam from the intense couple of weeks we’d had on LDL. Baring our souls and being so vulnerable together in our little women’s circle had gifted us an awesome friendship, but Christ, there’s a point where you just need to have some FUN. We also needed to catch up on emails and life admin, and so we found a beach club called Ulu Cliffhouse – the swankiest, sunniest office we’ve ever known.
Amritha joined us on our final day, and we even picked up a new French friend, a woman right on our wavelength as we discussed the pitfalls of being a woman trying to fit a mould, and the exhaustion of the corporate grind. She didn’t bat an eyelid at the weird shit we were doing – including rounding off the day with a little symbolic ritual that Tanya had been planning. We all wrote down the negative bullshit we needed to let go of, and as the sun went down and cast a gloriously fiery end to the day, we burnt them. But first was the task at hand – recording my first podcast. I had some ideas that needed refining in terms of the format, so this was to be a test run and a chance to have a good old chat about what we’d been through together in the last few weeks. We headed down to the beach to look for a quiet spot, and moving away from the crowds of surfers and sunbathers we came across a cave in the cliff. It seemed like the perfect place – secluded, hopefully good for the acoustics, and just… really cool! I loved hosting the conversation – the sea was quite loud, and the discussion wasn’t planned out so there were a few awkward pauses, but for me it was perfect, we were doing it, and it was exactly the boost I needed. Walking away from the cave after we’d recorded, I blurted out ‘how appropriate to have found a vagina in the rock!’ The Cave Women was born.
Here’s a very rough edit of the audio we recorded! (I haven’t done any work on the sound quality yet, soz.)