What is a Good Life? #50
Parenting, Meaning & Community with Claire McQuillan
Happy holidays to you all! I took some time off over the holidays hence the delay this week, normal Tuesday posts will resume next week. As the podcast is almost 1 year old now, I just want to say a big thanks for your support this year and I look forward to see where it goes next year!
On the 50th episode of the What is a Good Life? podcast, I am delighted to introduce Claire McQuillan as our guest. Claire is currently completing a master’s thesis in architecture, where she explores the dynamics of sex work in urban settings. Additionally, she shares her life insights and experiences through a newsletter I follow, alles claire.
During our conversation, Claire reveals her recent realisation that she isn’t an architect despite a decade of studying and working in the field. We delve into the intricate process of letting go of roles or labels we self-identify with, exploring both what helps and hinders us in these experiences.
Claire also shares her journey as a 30-year-old single mother to her teenage son, Sebastian. We discuss the joys and strains of parenting, finding meaning and purpose, and the societal pressures that generally accompany the role of a parent.
Finally, we explore the significance of local neighbourhood community. Claire and I both reside in the same Berlin neighbourhood, and we reflect on the profound impact of a fully connected local community on our lives.
Whether you find yourself grappling with letting go of self-identifications, navigating the complexities of parenting amidst societal pressures, or simply curious about fostering more local community in your life, this episode offers ample food for thought.
The weekly clip from the podcast (4 mins), my weekly reflection (2 mins), the full podcast (62 mins), and the weekly questions all follow below.
1. Weekly Clip from the Podcast
2. My weekly reflection
Living in the same local neighbourhood as Claire, our recent conversation made me think of a morning I experienced a couple of weeks ago, an experience that originally stemmed from the only “life-hack” I tend to offer people - consistently saying hello to people in your neighbourhood. It may sound extremely basic, however, this practice has significantly influenced the quality of my life.
Anyhow, that particular morning of mine a couple of weeks ago went as follows:
After walking my dog and nearing home, the local café owner, on his way to his café, crossed the street to greet me and pulled out an A4-sized photo of me with my baby at his café. I recalled that a few weeks ago, he took a photo of us there, and I had meant to ask him to send it to me.
On the back of the photo was the date and a comment expressing gratitude for the occasional meaningful conversations we sporadically have every few months. Man, I was really touched by this gesture.
I told him I’d be over there shortly, and on my way back, I warmly greeted an Italian father and his young daughter on the street. A couple of years ago, the mother of the family approached my wife while she was walking our dog. They didn’t have a dog but had two daughters who were crazy about dogs. She asked if they could pet our dog.
Seeing how much they enjoyed it, my wife offered to take the kids out walking with the dog most weekends. Whenever we go away now, we have a loving home for our dog, and they are always eager to have her for a few nights. A huge help, as anyone with a dog knows.
Now at the café, I struck up a short conversation with a friend who was sharing a challenge she was experiencing that week. Even though we rarely spend a lot of time together, when our baby arrived three weeks early this year, she generously gave us a baby sleeping bag and anything she thought would be helpful that we hadn’t gotten before our baby’s birth.
I then had a super brief chat with one of the baristas about some creative projects she's involved in. I shared some of my own new projects, and we exchanged words of encouragement.
All these micro-moments significantly contribute to the quality of my life. As I started to work and write that morning, they had put me in the most fantastic mood. None of them were planned or penciled into a diary or part of a morning routine; it was simply life happening.
As I've mentioned above, all these connections began with continually saying hello and good morning to everyone in my neighbourhood. Some ignore me, some become good friends, while many remain friendly hellos.
But what I notice most, whether they become friends or not, is people's willingness to do nice things for each other when there's even a hint of familiarity—it continuously uplifts me. It offers an almost complete counter weight to continuously hearing or reading online about how messed up the world and we as people are too.
While meeting 'like-minded' people online or in person is becoming increasingly popular, I believe you might be pleasantly surprised by the untapped, sporadic joy and connection waiting at your doorstep.
Amidst the myriad of "life hacks" available, all this may simply require is saying hello to people.
If you’d like to work with me individually as your coach, to awaken your own self-inquiry, message me here to a arrange a free 30-minute 1-on-1 consultation
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3. Full Episode - Parenting, Meaning & Community with Claire McQuillan - What is a Good Life? #50
4. This week’s Questions
Is there something you strongly identify yourself with that you would like to let go of or move on from?
In what area of your life do you perceive the most significant disparity between the way you describe it to others and the actual emotional or experiential reality?
I am a Coach based in Berlin, via Dublin, Ireland. I left behind a 15-year career in Capital Markets after I became extremely curious around answering some of the bigger questions in life. I started this project in 2021, for which I’ve now interviewed over 170 people, to provide people with the space to reflect on their own lives and to create content that would spark people’s own inquiry into this question. I am also trying to share more genuine expressions of the human experience, beyond the facades we typically project.