Today, KL Wells sits down with her friend and collaborator, Rachelle Babler, a TEDx speaker, #1 International Best-Selling Co-Author, and Entrepreneur & Advocate who grew up in Southern California.
Rachelle has a background of a variety of careers, ranging from paramedic to forensic analyst to entrepreneur.
Years ago, Rachelle was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, which caused her to dive into personal development, and eventually quit her job to pursue her “why.”
In this episode, Rachelle shares the importance of trusting your Intuition. She also explores the lessons and gifts of her journey, with alcohol, after her 34 day ‘dry.’”
This is a great episode. Take a listen!
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
“What I Learned From My 34-Day ‘Dry.’”
I am very excited to have Rachelle Babler with me. I met her a few years ago through a mutual friend of ours. She is delightful, an edge-dweller, and an adventurer that speaks to my heart. She’s a TED Talk speaker, international best-selling co-author, entrepreneur, and advocate that happened to grow up in Southern California. I’m going to let her tell her story. That is a more powerful way to go about this thing, and we’ll take it from there. Welcome, Rachelle.
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here and share a little different part of my journey, which I’m excited about. My story starts in San Diego. This is where I grew up. My father was in the Navy and got transferred down here from Los Angeles when I was a couple of years old, so San Diego’s all I know. We were fortunate enough to stay here. He didn’t get transferred anywhere else. My mom was a stay-at-home mom. I had two sisters. We all grew up here in North County, San Diego. Most of us that are still here are still in the San Diego area.
When I was growing up, I always was attracted to helping others but to medicine, in particular. When I was in high school, I was a student athletic trainer. I took CPR first aid. I loved it. I thought maybe I would go down the physical therapy route. I became a student trainer in college, too. I did lifeguarding. I got my EMT. When I got my EMT, I decided after about a year, I went and pursued my paramedic license, so I went through paramedic school, which was very challenging. It was a 50% failure rate. Half of my class failed. There were fourteen of us that graduated. I became a paramedic. I was trying to save lives in an ambulance and running 911 calls throughout San Diego.
I was pretty young at that time when I got my license in my early twenties, so I got thrown into very interesting situations at a very young age. It opened my eyes to life and humanity. Your life can change at any moment from an accident, overdose, suicide, and all these things that I had experienced and seen. I delivered five babies. I brought life into the world and I was there when people left this world. It was a great experience. I’m glad I did it.
The contract was coming up for negotiations and many of us weren’t going to get carried over. A lot of us started going back to school. I started taking some classes at a local community college, and I took a forensics course and I got hooked. I was fascinated by that. The guy that was teaching the class was in charge of the crime lab at Escondido PD here in North County, San Diego. I got hired there to work part-time. I went part-time as a paramedic. I was working as a medic and in the crime lab going back to school, and then they eventually hired me full-time.
I was initially a forensic specialist where I went to crime scenes, processed crime scenes, collected evidence, and went to the autopsies to photograph and collect evidence off the bodies. I did a lot there because it was a very small lab and we were the jack of all trades. I did the fingerprint comparisons. I did presumptive blood tests for the presence of biological fluids on things. I did a lot of different things.
After a couple of years, I got hired by a larger agency and I specifically was hired to work in fingerprints. I did that for almost twenty years. I analyzed latent prints from crime scenes and evidence. I helped with the identification of unknown deceased persons. We’d go and fingerprint John and Jane Does. I did research. The research that I’d done, I ended up creating a course out of it and speaking at forensic conferences all over the country. I got nominated to a prestigious forensic board. We were creating standards and guidelines for the entire country for my discipline.
It was a great experience. I loved it. I was at the height of my career, and then, one day, I decided to quit. I was flying back from a meeting and I remember my intuition started speaking to me. It was getting louder. It was to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. My intuition’s like, “There’s more for you to do in this lifetime, and it’s not forensics. You’re done. You did your service for almost twenty years.” It was interesting.
I started doing some personal development work after my brain tumor. I’ll get back to that in a second. If you want to work that intuition and strengthen muscle and voice, meditation’s a way to do it. It gets to a point where many times we’ll say, “I should have trusted my gut. I should have listened to my gut.” We don’t, but it’s right. When you meditate, you won’t question it. You won’t say it anymore. You’ll be like, “This is what my intuition’s saying to do. I’m going to do it.” That’s how I felt.
I remember a lot of people were like, “What are you doing? It’s the height of your career.” People knew my name and my discipline. I was teaching all over the country. I remember I was talking to somebody at one of the co-working spaces. He says, “You’re having your awakening.” I said, “It is my midlife awakening.” Many people were like, “You’re having a midlife crisis.” I had people tell me, “Go back to your job. Go back to work.” I was on a mission to find my why and figure out what I was meant to do in this lifetime.
Becoming an entrepreneur was very different, especially at the age of 46, because I’d been consistently to a job Monday through Friday for 20-something years. This was a whole new world for me. The catalyst for me quitting too was in 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was very scared at that time. It was growing fast. I had a newborn and an 18-month-old. I was married. I went down all the deep dark rabbit holes of, “My kids won’t know their mother.” I went through a challenging time.
For a year, I was trying to figure out what to do. My insurance denied my treatment request that I wanted after I’d done a lot of research to find out what treatment because I had 1% of all brain tumors. It’s pretty rare. That was when I jumped into my personal development journey. If you told me to go walk on coals or eat crickets to get rid of that tumor, I would’ve done anything. I was so determined to fix it and get rid of it so that I could stick around for a while.
That was when I started visualizations, meditations, and affirmations. It opened up my world to this whole other world that I almost never knew existed in the conditioning and programming of what I did with my life. Over the years then, until I quit my job, I was feeding my soul, finding out who I was, and rediscovering myself. I had gone through a divorce during that period, too. When I quit my job, I knew it was the right thing.
I look back now and I thank God I quit my job because the year after I did, my sister and my father both passed away within four months of each other. Had I not quit my job, I would’ve not had all that time with them. I think God, Universe, Source, or whatever you want to call it, knew that it was time for me to take a different direction because there was a lot coming for me.
I’m a huge advocate of something that I love. Being a paramedic, I advocated for patients. Being in forensics, I advocated for the truth of what happened. I was a piece of the puzzle of cases. When I had my brain tumor, I had to advocate for myself. Luckily, I have a health background in being a paramedic. I know a lot about medicine and the body. I got to help my sister and dad during that time and advocate for them when I felt it was needed.
I’ve had an interesting journey of jobs, careers, evolutions, and changes with myself. I just had my birthday. Every year is so much more fun. I can’t explain it other than this. People are so afraid to get older, and I’m like, “I feel much more comfortable in my skin. I don’t care about a lot of things I used to. I feel lighter.” Life is much more enjoyable because I don’t have all this noise in my head and space constantly like I did growing up. It’s been a fun journey for sure. I wouldn’t change anything in my life, none of it. It’s all been a gift to me and a mirror for me on things to work on and evolve through.
Although I didn’t know parts of your story, your spirit and availability to lean into the gifts, lessons, and opportunities embedded in it all is such a great example for others that get caught in the crisis, the trauma, and the drama of life, addiction, and things that we deal with. There’s a counterweight to it, which is what you’re speaking to. We’re speaking my language.
It’s not doing the work and diving into your stuff. It’s not for the lighthearted. It’s not easy, but I’m telling you, when you get to the other side and you have a breakthrough, you become the observer of your life, the ways of being, and what you’ve been doing. Me playing victim, self-sabotaging myself, or the limiting beliefs and all that, it is so worth it. I will forever be a student. I will always hire a coach, be in a program, read a book, or listen to podcasts. When you start to evolve and feel so much lighter, you want more. I’m addicted to that. I’m addicted to my growth and my light.
You have this light about you that is so captivating, and that’s when you’re on. When you’re turned on, you don’t want to get turned off. However, when the darkness does show up, you know how to access the light. There’s always going to be darkness showing up. When we’re at our lightest, that’s when the darkness shows up to challenge us again. It’s fascinating.
It is. It’s amazing how rooted some of our ways can be from things that we didn’t even know where they came from, whether it’s from our childhood, what we saw growing up, or things like that. I don’t blame my family. My parents parented the way they knew how and the way they were taught. They say every generation gets a little better. We all learn from each other. Nobody teaches us how to do a lot of these things when we become parents and we have children. There’s nothing but love and compassion for everybody that’s been in my life because I see where they were at.Every generation gets a little bit better than the last. We all learn from each other. Click To Tweet
That’s a remarkable gift to lift those veils away and to be able to recognize they were doing the best they could. They loved you in the only way they knew how. That frees everybody.
Yes, it does. Even if you don’t have a conversation with them, that thought will connect to them. We’re most connected with our thoughts and our stuff with our family and the people closest to us. You can still do a lot of healing without speaking it. If you can, that’s great. Even just healing that part and sending that love to that person is very powerful.
Speak to this journey that you went on relative to 34 days dry and why. What did you learn?
With all the stuff I’ve done in my life, programs, and coaching, doing a dry for those 34 days was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. My journey with alcohol started at a pretty young age. I was drinking in high school quite a bit. I live in San Diego, we’re close to the border. We would go down to Tijuana and we would party in high school. I can’t believe I did some of those things. I told my parents, and they know now about it, but I couldn’t imagine my almost sixteen-year-old being down at TJ partying. That’s what we did. It was such a different time. Being naive, you don’t think about all the dangers and those things that could happen.
My journey with alcohol started pretty young and carried into college. It wasn’t like I had to drink every day, but when we would get together and hang out, we’d drink a lot. Alcohol has always been a part of my life because of this social aspect. When I got diagnosed with my brain tumor, I remember I was so scared that I went to a holistic practitioner.
He told me to eat these things and cut out these things. Some of it was alcohol and caffeine. For six months, I did this clean eating. I took nasty herbs every day and drank them for six months. I never felt so better in my entire life. I didn’t think of the alcohol as like, “I need to quit it because I have a problem,” or for whatever reason. It was more because my whole health needed a rehaul.
I didn’t think about not drinking during that time because I was so focused on my brain tumor and my health. That was the longest period I’d gone without alcohol in my entire life. Like I said, I’m more of a casual drinker on the weekends or if I met a friend, I’d have a drink. When the new year started, I saw all these people posting about dry January. I was like, “There are a lot of people doing dry January. Should I be doing that?”
I would see them share their posts on how much better they felt, so it piqued my curiosity. It wasn’t like I felt like I had a problem and needed to stop, but I was curious more as to, “What if I did stop? How would I feel?” Again, I’m a forever student, “What feedback would it give me?” I had no idea what would transpire from that. It was amazing. The first week, I don’t know how many people DMed me, texted me, called me, and were like, “I’m watching you. I’m curious about stopping, too. I’ve thought about it. I don’t think I can do it.” I would get the, “I’ve done it. It’s great. You’re not going to want to drink again. I’ve been sober for this many years. These are some tips if you need help.”
It was like this constant thing. You can see me on social media. I post a lot of stuff, but it was the alcohol, me going dry that sparked so much interest. I was surprised about it. I would give an update on the weekly as to where I was. I tried to share as vulnerably as I could with the feedback I was getting for myself. After those 34 days, it opened my eyes to my habits and my crutches. Was I using alcohol as a crutch? Was I using it when I was stressed? Was I using it just to do it without even thinking about it? Just because I met a friend, I have to have a drink versus I don’t have to drink.
I have a band. We play at dive bars and bars here in San Diego. I thought that would be a little challenging. Sometimes I would have a drink to take the edge off a little before I got on stage, just so I was a little more relaxed. It was all those little things that I started to notice about myself. I haven’t shared this part, but did I have maybe a little bit of a problem with it? If I was using it as a crutch or when I’m stressed, is it a bad thing? When does it become a bad thing? All these things were stirring in my head and it gave me such complete feedback. The biggest thing was just having that clarity in my mind. I’ve become the observer of everything I do in interactions with people, my ways, and my thoughts.
It’s interesting. I get curious about everything. Is this me or are these just my thoughts? Is this happening? I do that because that’s helped my growth and discern between what’s true and not true. Doing that was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. I had a lot of people reach out. I had a couple of people say they’re going to try too. They’re going to do a month. It was interesting to me that from all the posts that I do, that was the one that piqued so much curiosity.
Statistically, we know that post-COVID, a lot of people were drinking more. I was. My friends and I would joke like, “Is it Wine 30?” It’d be the early afternoon because we’re all stuck at home. We’re stressed out. We had our kids full-time. We were trying to do homeschooling and work. We’re trying to make sense of all the madness and chaos going on in the world. What do you do? You drink. That’s when the Zoom happy hour started. There’s no judgment for me or for anybody who does whatever they want. There’s no judgment on my past other than it’s feedback for me to learn. It was a huge learning thing for me.
I love the way that you frame this in terms of feedback and observation. It’s dropping the whole judgment, right, wrong, good, or bad doesn’t exist. It’s observing what works and what doesn’t work for me. If more people would adopt that mindset, we’ll live in a whole lot happier world because we’re so steeped in judgment. I’m super curious as to what did you discover about your relationship with alcohol?
What I discovered is that I mimicked what I saw growing up. I saw people in my family drink when they were stressed, drink when finances weren’t good, and drink when there were maybe some heavy or stressful situations. I see patterns. I saw that there were many times I drank I didn’t need to. I didn’t need to drink as much as I did. Maybe there were times I didn’t have the control to stop myself, “Can I just go out and have 1 drink, 2, maybe 3?”
Now, being more mindful of what I’m doing, I don’t see myself going back to the way I was as far as drinking. I know I can go out and have a good time with friends and not drink. I told myself during this time too that I was going to do a 30-day dry, and then there were no expectations or outcomes as to what I would do after that. I was going to leave it open to see what happened.
For me, it may be a time when I celebrate. I’m going to have a birthday gathering with some friends and probably have a glass of wine, but I don’t need to have a lot. Maybe eventually it will completely leave, but the clarity piece and moving into my new birth year, I enjoy that and crave that. Especially when you’re working so much on your growth, you don’t want things to hinder, get in the way, or be a crutch to that growth. When you start to elevate, you feel like all the yumminess and greatness leaves from it. That’s why I think if we could teach our kids at a young early age self-care, self-love, and meditation, would this whole world be a different place?If children are taught at a young age about self-care, self-love, and meditation, the world would be a different place. Click To Tweet
Absolutely. No question. I would add one more and that’s to ask for help.
Don’t be ashamed of asking.
No matter what’s going on. There’s almost like a pendulum swing now coming out of COVID where people are doing what you’re doing. They’re abstaining enough to be able to get clearer and re-examine what their relationship is with alcohol and why. Much bigger level too, who do I want to be in the world and why?
There were many benefits to COVID where we are paused and forced to be at home. We’re forced to sit with our thoughts all day without all these distractions maybe going to work and being around co-workers or whatever. That was a huge blessing to see what was serving us, what wasn’t, and what we wanted to change. There was even something I read about the COVID midlife crisis where people were reflecting on their lives because we were forced to. There were a lot of good things that came out of it, but then there were a lot of things that elevated like drinking, domestic violence, and things like that.
The elevation in the social ills out of COVID was the big red flag getting bigger and signaling to us that these things don’t work. We are ill-prepared for moments of silence, being with ourselves, and also skilling up in terms of creating meaningful relationships with others.
It was great. I saw more families connect. I remember I would see families outside walking together, just walking, or kids riding their bikes. It was nice to see, and then, it went away when the world opened up again. Certainly, with my kids, we would go for walks. That part of it I enjoyed seeing. Sitting with ourselves in silence, I do have many hard times with that.
I can’t wait to meditate. I’m like, “This is my time.” There’s so much that comes from meditation and that’s a whole other topic that I know you know about, but creativity and peace. There’s so much. I meditate in the morning early before my kids get up. I try to meditate around lunchtime, and then again before I go to bed. I do three because it’s so delicious. It’s hard to explain, but once you do it, you can’t not do it. It’s non-negotiable for me. It’s my day. Even my kids will do guided meditations. When my kids say, “Mommy, can you turn on that meditation app?” It’s great that they know where to go if they need that downtime.
Arianna Huffington wrote Thrive. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book.
I’ve heard of the book, but I haven’t read it.
It was born out of a crisis moment when she was putting Huffington posts together and was exhausting herself. She passed out in her office and hit her head against the corner of her desk. She wakes up in a pool of blood and, “Doctor, what’s wrong with me?” They said, “Finally, you’re exhausted, and there’s no pill for that.”
She goes on this journey of discovering, “How do we live a thriving life?” Meditation is one of the three legs to the stool of sleep, meditation, and exercise. Again, born out of this trauma incident, my experience, because I’m older now, is that the 40s and 50s are powerful ages for accidents or illnesses to show up to give us the opportunity to wake up.
I try to share because I don’t want people to have that diagnosis and I don’t want them to have that traumatic experience, but sometimes that can be the biggest gift. For me, my brain tumor was. I remember a mentor said, “The gift is in the crap.” It was for me. It was in my divorce. It was in all the times that I felt like I hit rock bottom.
I thought you only hit rock bottom once. You don’t hit rock bottom once, you’ll hit it several times. When you are at rock bottom, there’s only one place to go, and that’s up. I look at all those times and I think those are such gifts. When I feel that coming or if I feel the heaviness, I get to a point where I can surrender to whatever’s going to happen. It’s such a beautiful space to be in.
That’s the resiliency muscle being birthed, born, and strengthened. I had a speaker speak to one of my business groups. She’s from San Diego also. She has CF, Cystic Fibrosis. She’s learned a lot about death and dying in her very young life. One of the things that she talked about was this notion that when you feel like life’s falling apart, it’s falling together. On average, as humans, we have these events on average every eighteen months. In design, I think it’s the human condition to allow us to continue to grow mentally and spiritually and elevate. They are all gifts and it’s a mindset framework.
One of the biggest challenging things for me is that mindset piece. I work at it every day. I have an app on my phone called Remindfulness. You can put a reminder in there. You can customize it, and you can do it every 20 minutes, every 30 minutes, every hour, every 4 hours. You can start it at 6:00 AM and it ends at 9:00 PM. I have this thing pop up on my phone every 30 minutes and remind me that I’m unconditionally loved.
I’ve never heard of that app. That’s going on my phone.
Whether it’s drinking or reminding yourself where you want to be or an affirmation. You can customize it and it’ll pop up. You can put a pretty tone to it, a sound as it comes up on your phone. My kids are always like, “What is that?”
Angels are coming.
That’s what I need to do to train my mind and get into that space of always reminding myself and feeling a certain way because a lot of what you manifest and want is on your feelings. It gets me to take a second to pause and to tell myself. I change what’s in it all the time based on maybe what’s going on in my life, but it’s a great tool.
That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing that because that will be referred to a bunch of people. It’s another reminder that we need these kinds of tools to keep us intentional and focused on what it is that we want to create in our lives and who we want to become. What we focus on, we get more of.
That’s one thing I had to not meditate in the morning, and then take off for the day, work, and forget about it until the evening. It’s become something that I’ve had to incorporate into my entire day because that’s what keeps me intentional and focused on the outcome or what I would like to see. It’s been a work in progress. To undo all this stuff that we had done, it takes work, but you can get there. When you’re focused, it doesn’t have to take a long time.
In an interesting way, you’re all speaking to the things that are most important for us as humans to thrive.
Thriving in the midst of chaos is what you preach and teach all the time, and I love it. Before a lot of my growth and before meeting you, I would not know that you can thrive in the midst of a personal thing that’s happening in your family and stuff like that. Teaching that, I would say add that to kids at a young age. They might not have the perfect family life, but they can still focus on themselves and learn to thrive.
As you get better and grow this muscle more, you realize that so many things are swirling around us at any given time. I’d rather be at an agency in terms of my own thriving no matter what’s going on around me.
What a great feeling that is. Because of my experience as a paramedic, I saw death a lot. I saw stuff a lot. In forensics, I saw horrible crimes and the worst of humanity and what they do to each other. I think a lot of me living, and then my diagnosis was life can change at any moment. I saw that as a medic. I saw it in forensics. I saw it by myself. My sister and father both passing away was another reminder to live your life unapologetically. You don’t have much time here. It goes fast.
I do a weekly reflection on Sundays for my week. What’s coming up in my week? I would be intentional. One thing I ask myself is, “If this was the last week I was here on earth, what would I do differently?” Whatever that is, I put it down and do it. It helps create that momentum. Maybe you’re wanting to write that book, start that business, or play guitar. You do it. You don’t wait.If this is your last week on earth, think about which things you would do differently. It helps create that momentum to do something you are planning for a long time. Click To Tweet
That’s such a powerful thing. The questions that we ask ourselves are so critically important to move us in the direction that we most want to go. We’re the ones who can ask us those questions. Grab a hold of questions that serve you to move in the direction that you most want to go. That’s another powerful tool.
What I’m taking away from this conversation is the comparative contrast between the life you lived previously that had a lot of darkness in it and the life that you live now has all this light. That’s extraordinarily powerful to counterbalance what’s happening in the world. You’re an example of finding the light in the darkness.
There’s always light in the darkness, so look at it. We tend to focus on the darkness and that’s it. We tend to focus on what might happen versus what could happen or what we want to happen. It’s being the observer and being mindful. I like to think of myself as I am observing everything. It’s all feedback. “This made me this way and this made me feel this way. Why was that?”
I feel like I’ve come a long way and I still feel like there’s a lot more to still learn. It’s exciting and fun. It’s exciting for me as a mom because I show my kids that you’re always evolving and growing and you can be a student forever. It doesn’t have to be hard. Being a student doesn’t mean you have to take a class and learn this. Being a student is becoming that better version of yourself every day.
That’s such a great lesson for younger people to learn. Learning never ends. If we’re going to be awake for our lives, it’s never going to end. It’s what keeps us vibrant and alive. This constant listening to podcasts, reading books, and talking to awesome people is what life is. This is the vibrancy of life. In the midst of it all, we have these traumas, dramas, and things that we deal with, and we can ride the wave of thriving even in the midst of it. We’re coming up against the edge of our time, unfortunately. Is there something that you want to share that you haven’t shared so far? What’s your definition of thriving?
As I evolved and learn more, I think that we’re here to help each other. It’s not all about me and my journey. It’s about my journey, sharing it, and speaking it to help others. It’s all about being of service to each other. We need more of that. I look at my interactions now differently with people and everything’s energy. How I respond to somebody or how I interact with somebody is all something that you can do, like plant these little seeds to help make this world a better place.
I teach my kids a lot. We do random acts of kindness. We compliment somebody or hold the door. The more I evolve, the more I want to be of service to others. I try to share vulnerably so that people know that we’re all going through this together. To thrive is to be yourself unapologetically and vulnerably. Thriving is a sense of freedom because when you thrive, you feel free. You feel like you can be yourself and speak whatever you need to say and share your truth. You feel like you are lighter, motivated, and inspired. That’s a big definition. When I think of those things, it’s a sense of freedom.
I think about it that way too, in the same sense that I think about forgiveness. My experience with that was the same thing. It was like, “I’m free.” Thriving is like I’m free.
I would say that with forgiveness too. When you truly forgive, it gives you a sense of freedom from that. That’s something you maybe back or heavy on you.
How can people get ahold of you?
I have a feeling some people will reach out to you.
Thank you for having me. I love you to death. I love what you do. You’re so inspiring to me, KL. I appreciate you having me.
I adore you as well. I’ve learned much more about your journey, which is that much more inspiring, too. Thank you for bringing the energy, the light, and the genuine and authentic person that you are to the table. Our time is our most valuable resource and I appreciate yours.
Thank you. I do, too.
- Rachelle Babler
- Facebook – Rachelle Babler
- Instagram – Rachelle Babler
- LinkedIn – Rachelle Babler
About Rachelle Babler
Rachelle Babler is a TEDx speaker, #1 International Best-Selling Co-Author, and Entrepreneur & Advocate who grew up in Southern California. She has had an eclectic background of careers: Paramedic turned Forensic Analyst turned Entrepreneur. After being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and diving into personal development work, she quit her job cold turkey to pursue her “why” and discovered what that was during a global pandemic. She is a storytelling strategist supporting clients who want to amplify their voice, message and brand through various media platforms such as the TEDx stage and through music. She is grateful she took a leap to create a purpose-driven business and to show her two children, Austin and Camryn, that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams.