Melanie and Anita


Melanie Cochran in conversation with
Anita Anand

Anita Anand is a BBC presenter, journalist and author. Her radio programme Any Answers? invites everyone to have their say. Her books uncover untold stories. Melanie Cochran is a consultant, coach and co-founder of createbalance. We bonded over Gin and a bottomless love for our inseparable sons.

26 weeks: Reflection

At the start, there was an assumption, an expectation and certainly a hope that this thing would pass. That there would be a start, a middle and an end. That a new normal would follow and that life in some form, would resume. Maybe not within the neatly packaged timeframe of 26 weeks, but at some point. Now, it doesn’t feel so temporary. There’s a permanence to all this. Not that it will always be this way. Please No! But it’s gone beyond this thing that happened to us. It’s now part of us, our evolution and it’s hurling lessons at us that we can no longer ignore.

As human beings we’re hard wired to evolve. We have an innate ability to continually adjust and change things in response to our surroundings and experiences, especially when our way of doing things reaches its limits. We react, we respond, we wield our strengths, our experiences and our instincts. We make changes and choices. 26weeks, has created a unique snapshot of this. A giant human selfie with multiple layers of observations, learnings, unexpected discoveries and revelations. We’ve put our ability to evolve under a microscope and watched the pandemic expose what we think, feel, say and do when forced to evolve at pace.

Reflecting on the reflections, the themes of who we are, what we do and why we do it bubble to the surface. I loved Sana Iqbal’s conversation with death and what she might be remembered for, Theresa Kieran’s description of her multiple-roles and manty-maker nature, Irene Lofthouse’s recognition of her ability to reappraise, repurpose, recreate and reinvent using what she’d good at in different ways. And there is more than one personal parallel in Lisa Andrews exploration of why ‘she is this, I am not’ might not be the best sibling definition of who we really are. In each case, these stories represent people’s ability to use what they have to keep evolving. Their sense of self, their values, their unique strengths and abilities, their true purpose and understanding of what matters most. These help us to create the balance we need to adjust our position relative to the things around us, to respond to things outside our control and to keep moving forward in some way.

My conversation partner Anita flagged early on (because she’s smart like that), that we were seeing the hallmarks of a changing life and we have the experience now to make better decisions and choices. I hope so. As humans, we have an innate talent for prioritising our wants over our needs and certainly the needs of others. It’s ironic but hopeful perhaps, that our response to having our desires denied and our control diminished during the pandemic, has moved us to rediscovering and appreciating the things that actually matter most. Human connection, equality, our health and well-being, respect for the world in which we co-exist and the value of science, creativity and the arts.

For me I’ve learned two important things. That nearly everything can be fixed by switching it off and switching it on again. That my son really is the thing that matters most. As for evolution. I feel like I’m taking more steps backward than forward at the moment and still fighting to create the right balance. But maybe that’s what evolution is.

Melanie Cochran

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