I sought out Rachel at few years ago to answer a few questions about digital media and marketing at work. When I learned that Rachel is a personal and professional coach to new mothers who are transitioning back into the workplace, I just had to reach out and interview her for our Working Parents Rock! Interview Series. Rachel is so real, humble, funny and insightful. I know you'll have a blast reading her interview. Please be sure to also visit her website at http://www.rachelbgarrett.com.--Kat
Interview with Rachel B. Garrett
Q: Hi Rachel! Tell us a little about you.
A: I’m a coach, a wife, a life-long Joni Mitchell fan, and a people connector, but by far the job I’m most proud of—is being a mom to my two daughters, Jane and Roxanne.
After both of my maternity leaves, I went back to my corporate career in Digital Marketing. I knew I would feel different, but I didn’t realize just how alone I would feel. I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t fit into any of my pre-baby clothes. I pumped at work in my colleague’s office—which meant I had to kick her out every time I needed to use it! I felt like nobody understood what I was pulling off.
When my second daughter was sleeping through the night, I decided to take the first step in getting my life back by seeing a Health Coach who helped me get on track with my exercise and fitness. I lost 40 pounds. I felt, healthy, sexy and strong again. So strong, that I decided to train for the New York City Marathon.
The Marathon shook me to my core. I trained for five months, made it through several injuries, stormy and early morning runs—and ended up finishing a minute under my goal time. As a mom, I felt guilty about the time I was spending away from my daughters during my training, but I knew it was worth it when my older daughter, Jane, burst into tears when she saw me along the route and kept the marathon map as her prized keepsake. It made me realize how important it is for our kids to see us setting unthinkable goals and then working our butts off to achieve them.
While running a marathon isn't for everyone, it helped me realize that I wanted to help others feel that same pride and power I felt during my training and crossing that finish line in Central Park. It prompted me to start down the path of becoming a coach, courageously inspiring women to choose to be their best selves. I feel lucky to share my gifts with my clients every day—and to share this journey with my daughters, teaching them to make choices in their own lives, to be bold, to be powerful, to be uniquely who they are.
Q: Tell us a little about your family.
A: We live in Brooklyn and have a lot of Brooklyn pride! Our daughters are eight and five and they are experts in surprising us and making us laugh in those moments when we’re supposed to be putting on our parent game faces. My husband, Justin, is beloved by the girls for his quirky, playful humor. He can make any inanimate object into a puppet with a unique personality. He works in the financial services industry, but I believe he missed his Muppeteer calling. I love teaching my coach-isms to my girls who eat them up. I was telling my eight-year old, Jane, about how I help women to quiet their inner critic voice—the one that tells you, “You’re not smart enough!” or “You’re not experienced enough!” And she said, “That would be great coaching for me. My voice says, “You can’t do a handstand!”
Q: What’s a day for you like these days? Your typical week?
My days are all over the map and that’s how I like it! I try to drop off the girls at school a few times a week—it keeps me connected to their community and friends. I make time to run every other day. My running time is critical to my mental health—it is my meditation and also my time to worship at the alter of podcast!
Throughout the week, I see both individual and corporate clients and other coaches and therapists. I love meeting new people and collaborating—it’s what I do best so I try to set up a few of these meetings a week. They get my energy pumping! What I love about my week is that such a large percentage of my time is spent supporting women in their careers, figuring out what’s blocking them and getting them on the path that works for them.
Q: What’s your favorite children’s book? What books do your daughters like?
A: I absolutely adore Julia Donaldson’s “The Snail and the Whale.” I love it when the snail looks out onto the mountains and realizes he “feels so small.” I remember experiencing that same feeling when I first explored the Rockies as a teenager--and it's one of those humbling moments nature can give you to put your life in perspective. That book may have to move into my personal library when the girls are done with it (which I hope will never happen!). That one may have to move into my personal library when the girls are done with it. And—BJ Novak’s “The Book With No Pictures” is a classic in our house with the kids.
Q: Where do you and yours vacation nowadays? Do you recommend it for new parents and their babies/toddlers?
A: We rented a house for a week in Woodstock, NY last summer and I fell in love with it! It’s very family friendly with hikes for all levels, kayaking and quaint towns all around to explore.
Q: Rachel, what is your definition of success these days?
A: Identifying your life values, goals and priorities and then using them as your compass. I do an exercise with my clients to help them identify their values and when I did it myself again last year, I realized that I added “peace” to the list of others—courage, connection, inspiration, fun—that have been clear to me for years now. When I made this realization, I stopped doing some things that didn’t bring me peace. Overscheduling myself, going to crowded events, (and sorry, but) too many kids’ birthday parties. Instead I opted for downtime in the park with the kids, seeing a few close friends and time to think. This has given me a chance to feel like I’m creating the life that I want to live – a.k.a. Success!
a coach's advice for new parents...
Q: What was one piece of advice shared with you that really helped and stuck with you as a new parent?
A: This wasn’t meant as parenting advice, but in one leadership seminar I took in my late 20’s, I was told, “If it doesn’t exist, create it.” And that’s what I was determined to do with my career while I was on maternity leave with my first daughter. I knew I wanted to go back to work part-time for at least a year—so I figured out my most marketable skills and started tapping my network until I found the perfect Digital Marketing role—3 days a week, working with former colleagues. It took some pounding the pavement and hearing a lot of no’s, but I was determined to find this kind of opportunity—and that’s what made the difference for me.
Q: After maternity leave ended, did you feel guilty about going back to work? What advice do you have for new parents who have to work? (I like to ask this question because I felt so, so guilty leaving Phil!)
A: I didn’t feel guilty because I enjoyed working and I knew I was a better mom BECAUSE I was working. That was the right formula for me. It may not work for someone else. The best advice I can give you (as a fellow mom and not a coach)—do what’s right for you, not what you think you should do or what worked for your sister or your best friend or that high school acquaintance who has an Instagram feed that makes your ovaries twitch. Take the time to figure out what your priorities are—because you don’t have to “do it all.” You have to do what’s important to you.
parenting and working just fit...
Q: How do you fit life and work into a harmonious balance?
A: I don’t expect a harmonious balance! I’m constantly tweaking the way things are working in our family and having conversations with my husband, Justin, about the things I do that he has no clue I'm even doing! The clothes show up in the closets. The play-dates are scheduled. The babysitter or daycare calls/texts me. I go to the doctor appointments. It’s this secret third job of household infrastructure that puts women over the edge. And I say—don’t blame your husband for that. He has no idea you’re doing any of it! Because of the nature of what I do and because Justin is one incredibly supportive and loving partner—we have these kinds of conversations about what I’m doing and where I need help and sometimes we re-allocate tasks. And that comes with changing my expectations that all the things he takes on will be done the way I want them to be done. It’s not possible and if I want the help, I practice appreciating what’s being done instead of criticizing it. It’s not easy to let go of these things we’ve had such a tight grip on—but sometimes loosening the grip is what will bring you back some time in your day. What’s that worth to you?
When it feels like you’re the last priority in those early years with your little guys—that’s a red flag that I recommend you lovingly address quickly. Self-care, hobbies and creative outlets are critical to feeling engaged and in control of your life. Without making time for these things, we feel overwhelmed, drained and like we’re failing in both work and motherhood. With them, we’re invigorated, connected to the people we love and present to the joy they bring into our lives.
Thank you for stopping by, Rachel, and sharing so many pearls and words of wisdom!