In our latest Facebook Live Travel Chat, we spoke to midlife adventurer Jo Moseley about her paddleboarding journey across northern England.
She was full of practical advice on how to plan your own midlife adventure and why you should do it now.
A few years ago, Jo found herself sobbing in the biscuit aisle of the supermarket. She was a single mum, her two sons had just left home, and both her parents were undergoing chemotherapy.
Somehow, she found the courage to change her life – despite some people telling her that her plan sounds “quite boring,” “logistically difficult” and “too difficult for women of your age.” (Jo was only 51 at the time!)
Eventually, Jo found the confidence to stick it to the naysayers and make her dream happen.
“In 2019, Jo became the first woman to paddleboard coast-to-coast across the north of England, picking up plastic pollution and raising money for charities along the way. ”
In 2019, she became the first woman to paddleboard coast-to-coast across the north of England, picking up plastic pollution and raising money for charities along the way. She also made Brave Enough, probably the only film about adventure and menopause! If you haven’t seen it yet, do. It’s all about how adventure can help you address issues from your past and move forward into a midlife with purpose. The next screening is on 8 April.
Here’s Jo’s 3-step roadmap to a midlife adventure!
Step 1: Put your dream adventure on the priority list
It sounds straightforward but it’s not always that simple, as many women in the Thelma & Louise Club will understand.
For multiple reasons, so many women don’t prioritise their own hopes and goals but, “if it’s not a priority, it’s difficult to plan around it, or just to plan it,” says Jo. There’s a psychological importance here too. By putting it on the priority list, you’re saying to yourself and others, “It’s important because it’s important to me.”
Step 2: Start saying mantras and affirmations – and mean them
“I'm sure lots of the women in the Thelma & Louise community will know this,” says Jo, “and it’s that getting to the start line is often the hardest bit.” She advises taking it step by step, and reinforcing your physical journey with emotional techniques such as vision boards, visualisation and affirmations. “Self-talk is a really powerful thing,” she says. “I visualise what it would be like every day to wake up and paddleboard.”
“I visualise what it would be like every day to wake up and paddleboard.”
Take the four working mums in the Yorkshire Rows as an example. One of them, Jo’s friend Helen, used to visualise herself coming into Antigua having just rowed the Atlantic as she was driving to work every day. The Yorkshire Rows were the first women to row across the Atlantic.
Step 3: Follow your curiosity
Sometimes the hardest part is pinpointing exactly what it is you want to do. “We’re often told to ‘follow your passion’ but that’s not easy when you’re feeling a little lost or a little broken on reaching this new chapter,” says Jo.
If you’re struggling, Jo advises following your curiosity. “Try different things and ask, ‘Did that lift my soul, or did it really not?’ And be honest with yourself. Think about what brings you joy in your daily life.”
For Jo, it was paddleboarding: “I bought a paddleboarding lesson in the Lake District. I'd heard it was great and I wanted it to be great but if it had been awful, I could have just ticked it off and said, ‘Tried it, not really for me!’” Jo tried surfing too, but found it “unbelievably hard”.
“Be curious and open and you just might find something, or you might say, ‘Actually, that’s not it.’ And it might be right in front of you.” It could be walking or wild swimming or ice skating or slack lining or graffiti crochet! Half the fun is in the trying things out! Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear for inspiration and courage.
“One of the things that I've learned is the adventure is what's important to you. It doesn't have to be epic. It doesn't have to be standing on the top of a mountain stuff. If it matters to you, then really that's what's important.”
And if you ever doubt whether your plans count as An Adventure, remember Jo’s words:
“One of the things that I've learned is the adventure is what's important to you. It doesn't have to be epic. It doesn't have to be standing on the top of a mountain stuff. If it matters to you, then really that's what's important. Judge it on your criteria, what brings you joy, what makes you feel brave, what purpose it gives you.”
Watch the full interview to hear more about Jo’s adventure and how it helped her cope with her menopausal symptoms and start a new chapter in her life.