Last January, we didn’t know each other. Just like we didn’t know what was about to happen to our careers.
We knew of each other, having two mutual friends who sometimes talked about introducing us–“You have to meet Rhianna! She was on that Hockey Wives show and you two have so much in common!” “We have to arrange for you and Elissa to meet! She was a TV host for years, and she has so many fun celeb stories!”–but, life being what it was in the before time, as we’ve come to call it, we were just too busy doing our own thing.
Rhianna’s “thing” was a burgeoning Experiential Marketing/Event Planning biz, with a big event contract freshly signed. Elissa was facilitating large Leadership Communication workshops across North America, in boardrooms with big conference tables and bigger buffets. As we write this, we’re struck by how freakish all of this sounds: making a (very good) living by putting large groups of people in rooms together, sharing food and drink… and droplets.
But back in carefree January 2020, we were both feeling really good about our life choices. Both of us had been through divorces (Rhianna’s more challenging, Elissa’s more plentiful; she was a year and a half out of her second marriage), both of us had healed, and we felt strong and successful. In control of our destinies.
It really, really sucked. Both of us felt like we had, at long last, moved into the fast lanes of our careers, and we were finally enjoying the ride, only to end up screeching to a halt in a big, ugly traffic jam. We were pissed, we were sad, but we’re happy to report that neither of us had a full-on freak out. Maybe it’s because of what we’d just experienced–having just accomplished something really big in our personal and professional lives–or maybe it’s because we knew we were all in this thing together, but more likely it was because we were both really relieved we didn’t have to go through quarantine with our exes.
Whatever it was, it spurred some serious creativity. Elissa started filling her time in a familiar way–by firing up the camera and shooting short videos about how to communicate well in this weird world of zoom calls and job searches. Rhianna took the opportunity to focus on spending time with her kids and taking care of herself, by getting rid of alcohol and focusing on meditation, yoga and regular workouts. During that introspective time, Rhianna developed an idea; something that had been bubbling just under the surface for a while, but with the noise of work and kids and life, she hadn’t had a chance to fully explore it.
We finally connected. What if, Rhianna asked during our first phone call together, there were a community for divorced people, to help them heal, share, and grow? What if this community helped take away the stigma of divorce, helped people heal, and made it easier to go through the process? What if we could have a few laughs in the process?
That was in April. Since then, we’ve created an ideal union of our own: The Feel Free Community and Podcast (feelfreecommunity.com), a safe space to heal where, with the help of experts and sharing our own stories, we can help people who are going through what we went through. Our tagline, “Two Women, Three Divorces, No Regrets” reflects our cheeky self awareness, but also our belief that self acceptance and a growth mindset are keys to happiness. Another key to happiness? Balance. We were lucky to naturally strike the perfect tension. Rhianna is super organized, driven and creative, while Elissa rocks at writing and creative ideas. We started the podcast four months ago, and we’re already starting season two.
We’re not sure when we can begin the events and retreats we dreamed of building, but while that part’s on hold, we’re dreaming up new virtual versions of our original ideas. As we do, we’re learning that tough times spur creativity. Thanks to a global pandemic, we’ve found our life’s purpose.
Rhianna Weaver and Elissa Lansdell
Feel Free Community