Georgie Crawford’s wellness journey began with hydration. She committed, she says, to drinking a glass of water before her morning coffee, and in doing so took her first baby step on a new path. This journey, she tell us in this inspiring interview, has brought inner peace and happiness she never knew possible. These days her laughs are louder and life is brighter. It’s a stark contrast to those awful dark days following her husband Jamie’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2012 (aged 32) and then her own stage-two breast cancer diagnosis in 2017 (when she was also 32), which changed her perspective on everything and fast-tracked her to a place of gratitude.
“Thank you”, were the two words we heard her say most today, in her mum Siobhan’s house in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. You could nearly touch the love in the room when her little girl Pia (5) arrived home from school as their mad 3-year-old Labrador, Piper tore around.
Life looks good and work is flying. Her podcast, The Good Glow, is now in its 11th series and her company Good Glow productions has expanded to include a wellness programme (Rise and Thrive), a new podcast series (Soul Sisters with her pal, Claire Sollan) and even Good Glow Guidance Cards to inspire everyone on their self-love journey. But, it’s a more personal project that we’re really most excited about today. This year Georgie and Jamie plan to grow their family further through surrogacy. “We’re excited for the next chapter”, Georgie tells us. “But we know it may not be easy.”
We talk about manifesting for the future, finding hope in dark days, how The Good Glow was borne out of love and how change is always possible.
Georgie, you spent the day thanking us. But it’s us who should be thanking you for all the positivity you bring. Was that you practising gratitude?
I had a moment today while I was getting my hair done with my hairstylist, Danielle Garner. Because in 2017 when I was going through chemo, Danielle shaved my head. So, when we have these fun days, and when I feel lovely, I do get overwhelmed with gratitude. I think I’ve really learned over the last few years to stop and appreciate the good days, because I waited so long for them to come back. Of course, there was good days scattered across my cancer journey, but days like this, in my mum’s house, spending lovely time with my family, it’s these days you never forget. Today was just a really special day.
We’re emotional already! Stop! Okay, we’ve lots to talk about but, let’s start with your surrogacy journey first, because it’s a big one…
It sure is! Well, because I want to stay on my cancer drug Tamoxifen for as long as I can, Jamie and I decided during lockdown that surrogacy was the right option for us. On the 23rd of December we matched with our surrogate and over the next couple of weeks we will hopefully have an embryo transfer. If all goes to plan, and we don’t know if it will, we will hopefully have a baby in our arms by the end of the year, or early next year.
We listened back to your emotional Good Glow podcast with Rosanna Davison when she spoke about her surrogacy story and about how surreal the experience was to have another woman in another country carry your baby. It’s a lot to get your head around…
It is, and it terrifies me, especially having had the privilege of being pregnant before. I know what it feels like to tuck yourself up in bed at night with your baby in your belly. But you know, surrogacy is a last option for so many people and we’re just going to have to trust the process and believe that all will be well. But it’s definitely overwhelming at times.
Focusing on the paperwork side of surrogacy is probably easier, whereas matching with your surrogate must have been on a different emotional scale altogether…
It was. But I knew instantly. The solicitors told us it would happen that way, that we would know in our heart of hearts when we got the surrogate profiles who was the right one for us. And I did! We were about to order lunch up the slopes in France, and I said, ‘Jamie, I got the email, she’s the right one, I’m gonna write back’. And he was like, ‘Georgie, I haven’t even seen her profile yet, wait!’ But I just knew she was right. She’s an angel that has come into our lives and it’s so important to myself and Jamie that her rights, interests, and welfare are taken care of and prioritised.
In the Ukraine, surrogacy is legislated for, it’s legal, the clinics are really good and we are comfortable that our surrogate mother is fully informed in the process.
The threatened Russian invasion into Ukraine is all a bit worrying now…
It is, but our solicitor is making sure we are fully informed on a weekly basis. Also, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the clinics in Ukraine are actively working on contingency plans, should the situation escalate. We’ve just got to hope.
All going well you will soon be a mum again. But while in the Ukraine you will both be legal parents, as soon you touch down in Dublin airport, you will become a legal stranger to your own child…it is crazy.
Yep, and I will have to wait two years and only then can Jamie consent to me becoming a guardian to my own child – even though that child will have my DNA. It’s outrageous. Despite being in a very happy marriage Jamie will also hold all of the control when it comes to our future child as he will be the only legal parent under the current law. This could leave so many women in a helpless and vulnerable position. But there is change happening, thankfully.
A joint Oireachtas Committee has begun and the Government have a three-month period to consider international surrogacy. Jamie and I hadn’t planned on talking about our surrogacy plans until our surrogate was six months pregnant and the baby was well on its way but, seeing all the mums and dads campaigning for change last year, I couldn’t sit by and say nothing when all the women in this country have stood by me.
You asked Rosanna [Davison], who has also been actively campaigning for change, if in a weird way did she think her life was mapped out the way it played out. And she said despite all the sadness, she did. Do you feel the same?
It took me a long time to get to this point. and to say this out loud. Because it feels wrong to say I’m grateful for my cancer, but for me, – and of course everyone’s cancer journey is different – cancer changed my life for the better. It put me on a new path and helped me discover myself, even amidst the rock-bottom awful days. And, out of my cancer came The Good Glow, which brings so much positivity into my life and reminds other women to look after themselves. It would be so easy to say, ‘Why do bad things happen to me and Jamie?’ But Jamie and I love our life.
Yeah, Jamie has MS, and I had cancer, but we see those things as a blessing now because they have brought us to where we are today. Jamie and I are a tight team and we really try to support each other and believe that everything is coming to us, as it was meant to.
When times are tough how do you support each other? Because supporting can be hard…
Myself and Jamie work together; we spend a lot of time together; it isn’t always easy. But I read this quote on American tv host Mel Robbins’ Instagram page the other night: “Happy couples aren’t just the ones posting kissing selfies. They’re the ones having uncomfortable conversations, helping each other overcome trauma, and ugly-crying to save their relationship. Happy couples prioritise growth and are a source of inspiration for each other.”
That’s the reality of life, we all have ups and downs and Jamie and I have been through some pretty tough times but we stick together and we communicate as best we can.
Women may be good at talking but sharing the tough stuff can still be hard…
On The Good Glow I take a step back and I listen to my guests tell their story. But with my new podcast Soul Sisters with my friend Claire Sollan I have had to take a real leap of faith and put myself out there and talk about me and what goes on in my head, and it feels really vulnerable. Researcher and author Brene Brown speaks about having a “vulnerability hangover” when she puts herself out there – I relate!
We’re all just a bit broken really, trying to pull ourselves together and muddle through!
Yeah, and it’s such a journey. For me my first step into wellness was becoming hydrated. It was just one tiny step: insisting that I have a glass of water every morning before my first coffee. Baby steps.
Jamie took a big step in 2020 when he spoke publicly for the first time about his MS diagnosis (in 2012). He said he went to a dark place for many years with it, but opening up finally helped…
For many years it was something that he kept to himself and his immediate family, and he did go through a dark time, but equally I would see him out running and doing all these challenges and I knew people – especially those diagnosed with MS – would really benefit from hearing his story. Then one night we were lying in bed after we’d had two very close friends over and he said, “I nearly told them tonight”, and I sat up in the bed because I had been just so used to never talking about it and keeping this big secret. The next day we talked about it again and he said, “I’ll tell my story on The Good Glow”. I’m so proud he did.
Jamie says that his illness gave him resilience and strength to help you through your illness, when you were diagnosed with breast cancer, aged 32…
I remember one night while watching tv he said to me, “You know you’re not going to feel like this forever”. I said, “Jamie, are you crazy? I’ll never be the same again, I’ll never laugh the same way again. I’ll never be happy like I was, my life as I knew it is over”. And he said, I promise you will feel the same again and I promise you life will get back to normal And although I didn’t feel it at the time, I believed him. I trusted that those moments would come back and they did – better than before.’
Jamie used to be the CEO of radio station Spin 1038, but now you guys work together, just like your mum and step dad do, too. How do you make it work?
It’s similar to how we worked in Spin where he was CEO and I worked in the newsroom. I’m more concerned with who I’m going to interview, whereas he thinks about the ‘big picture’ and is more corporate minded. Jamie has really helped The Good Glow evolve as a brand into something I could never have imagined. We’re a good team. He’s a real motivator.
He brought us down to The Healing Forest today, not far from your house, where during lockdown he ran Men’s Shed events…
Yeah, it’s a cool place. Jamie’s friend Luke and his wife Nicoline created The Healing Forest during Covid. Forest Bathing is a fairly new concept here, but it’s been going in Japan for hundreds of years. You can bathe in the trees, mediate, get Reiki. I think if you’re in crisis it’s a good place to go. Often before a big podcast instead of sitting at my desk trying to think of questions, I’ll go to the forest and clear my mind. It helps me do a better interview.
Please tell us all about your new wellness course, Rise and Thrive with Gerry and Miriam Hussey. It sounds fab…
It’s an online course that can be done at home in your own time. It was inspired by my struggles with my own mental health during lockdown. I wanted to create a course that would help people create inner belief, but also give balance, because when things are chaotic it’s really hard to sit down and think about the future. I never thought I’d be saying, ‘I created a wellness course’. But we can all do anything we put our minds to and it’s never too late to start again.
You have also recently qualified as a health coach. When did you find time to fit this in?
It took a year, and was about five hours work online a week from New York – I loved it. My teachers were people like the spiritual leader Gabby Bernstein, best selling author Dan Buettner and the biochemist Dr. Libby Weaver. It was an incredible wellness journey and I got so much more out of it than just a qualification.
How have you been getting on with Gabby Bernstein’s 21-day manifesting challenge?!
Really good! Gabby is amazing! Her book The Universe Has Your Back helped me quit my job in Spin after ten years. I know a lot of people think manifesting is a load of shite! But she really helped me understand how to manifest and how it’s not about manifesting a holiday or a 5-star-lifestyle, it’s about thinking about what you need in your life. For me it was inner peace and so to cultivate that feeling you have to be proactive and start to live that life.
Inner peace, you are finding. Because you are cultivating the life you want. Manifesting is working, Georgie!
Well, with a lot of support I think I have got, or am getting, to that place! My mum has been handing me books for years, a lot of books I never read until I got sick, like Louse Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life and Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. So, this wellness journey really stemmed from her. My mum just radiates love, she loves us all so much. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. My whole business was born out of support and love from my family, and I think that’s why it’s surviving and thriving.
Your mum is gorgeous inside and out. We spoke a lot to her today about how during your cancer journey she was breaking on the inside, trying to keep it together on the outside.
My mum suffered more than anyone. I have moved on but she is scarred from it. She worries a lot about me, more than I’ll probably ever know so that’s why days like today are even more important for us. I often think it’s harder for the person looking on. You can see their hearts breaking. I couldn’t even ask my mum how she was when I was sick because I was so terrified of the answer.
Georgie, it’s been a joy to talk. Before we go please tell us what you do on a daily basis to keep body and mind well?
I have this mental wardrobe I open up each morning and I say, which healthy habit today? It could be a glass of wine with Jamie on the couch on Friday or it could be a 5k run or a dip in the sea, but I don’t put myself under as much pressure as I used to. I do what helps me get through each day.
INTERVIEW: Bianca Luykx
PHOTOGRAPHY: Lili Forberg
STYLING: Zeda The Architect
MAKEUP: Lisa Shannon; lisashannonmakeup.com
HAIR: Danielle Garner; daniellegarner.com
For support, reassurance and advice during surrogacy: @irishfamiliesthroughsurrogacy
Follow Georgie on Instagram @georgie.crawford; sign up for her Rise and Thrive course at thegoodglow.ie; listen to The Good Glow and Soul Sisters podcast where you find yours; support The Irish Cancer Society this Daffodil Day, May 25th; cancer.ie and breastcancerireland.com.