Hey! Well, I made it to 12 episodes of the podcast and in my opinion, that’s a whole series of living midlife, mischievously! So I thought it might be opportune to just take a pause at this point and revisit some of the fantastic learnings and insights this first season has given us….
Feeling lost, frustrated or stuck?
I said in my trailer that I wanted to help those of you feeling frustrated, stuck or simply living a life void of fun. From the feedback you’ve given me so far, it seems my message resonates, especially with my fellow midlifers. It’s so hard to juggle ALL the things and still meet our own needs and feel filled-up isn’t it? But I fiercely believe in this idea of REBELLING AGAINST THE ORDINARY. I don’t like words like hustle or the idea that we have to fight for success but I do think a key part of getting what we want lies in our capacity to be intentional and disciplined. It’s a rebellion because we don’t accept what society says and c’mon, there are no rules! And the sooner we acknowledge and embrace this fact, the sooner we can get on with creating a life we love based on our own individual circumstances!
What if we could reimagine our lives?
That’s the disruptive part! That’s the thing I get excited about! What if we could reimagine our day-to-day lives in some way and turn the mundane bit on its head? I say reimagine because it doesn’t have to mean constructing a whole new life and walking away from an existing one. It can be amplifying a mediocre one into something fucking amazing! Reading The Power of Fun, which I discussed in Episode 2, helped me no end because I was able to grasp the concept that fun doesn’t just fall into your lap, we’ve got to orchestrate those situations for ourselves, using our interests, creating the space to explore our passions and combining playfulness with the people who truly light us up and allow us to be authentic, unfiltered versions of ourselves.
When I spoke to Gemma Fryer about her brand Geoff Leopard, it was clear that building a business was as much a passion as a job and in basing it around the things she loves, she’s created not a work-life balance but a work-life blend, or better still, a lifestyle. I think that’s what happens when you stop viewing a job and a private life as something separate. They can be of course, but they can also fuse together into a whole way of life and I don’t mind telling you, that’s exactly what I’m aiming for eventually.
Do you feel like a misfit? You’re in good company!
It’s no secret that I’ve often found this a bit of a struggle though, not least because for many years I’ve felt like a total misfit so it was of great comfort to me when I met Clare Alexander and realised that not only are there many more nice people in the fashion industry than I’d first thought, but that we don’t have to separate our outside interests that might seem completely unrelated and crucially, far from making you a freak, they make you unique. I wish I could go back to that younger version of myself, the twenty something Footwear Design student at London College of Fashion and tell her just how amazing she was to have not only the creative skills, but the determination and drive to face many physical and mental challenges with the British Army, as part of the Officer Training Corps. The looks my classmates would give me when I would turn up for shoemaking classes with this giant rucksack of army kit weighing 20kg on a Friday, ready for a weekend of shooting, section attacks and eating out of mess tins. Part of me loved the fact that I found it hard yet still went back every week and I enjoyed the sheer ecstasy of completing 2 days of shooting competitions or sleeping under a poncho, or training my section in battlefield first aid. Every now and again I would beat the boys on my fitness test too and again, I loved it, but although I often felt more aligned with my fellow officer cadets than my fashion friends, I still couldn’t shake the feeling of not really belonging anywhere. If they thought I was weird as a soldier in fashion school, imagine how I looked as a shoe designer wielding a rifle! I could see the funny side but I could also never understand this either-or-thing. For fucks sake, I’m both alright?! And I refuse to fit your labels or boxes. Square peg, round hole forever!
Anyway, this kind of push-pull between interests has been a constant my whole life. I once read a book which gave it a name and blew my mind – multi-passionate. I felt relieved to know that there are others like me who don’t want to commit to one thing but enjoy a whole vast array of hobbies and passions. When I talked to Clare about working for herself, her love of motorcycles, her career in fashion and wanting to empower women I could see not only how building this kind of life for yourself is totally possible, but that it’s also your superpower and I am full of admiration for what she’s been able to create. As she so rightly says, try something, what’s the worst that can happen?!
Start something meaningful and don’t stress over the outcome
Every one of my guests is a badass in their own way and that’s what I love about who they are and what they do. My episode with Sophie inspired a lot of you to get in touch and let both of us know just how much her story has affected you. In one instance, a listener confided in me that hearing Sophie’s experience of stage 4 cancer had helped answer a question she’d had about her late father’s battle with the disease and she felt comforted knowing this for the first time since his passing. It’s for moments like this that I am so unbelievably happy to have started this podcast and even more grateful to have you listening in and sharing it. It truly is bringing me the meaningful connections I’d been longing for, the freedom to express myself and the adventure of trying something new, no matter how bad I am at the beginning and with no defined outcome. This is very much the sentiment I spoke of in the episode entitled A leap of Faith. It totally is like I’m fumbling around in the dark some days but I don’t mind that because its fun, it’s meaningful and I’d like to think I’m having a positive impact in some small way.
In many ways, I feel like this is exactly what Jennie is doing on her journey with Ride Like a Girl. As she explained, what started as a blog to simply help other women with an interest in motorcycles has since grown into a whole community of badass women, merchandise involving collaborations with talented, female designers and now real-life meet-ups that bring women together. She couldn’t have foreseen how a few blog posts would offer her amazing friendships and opportunities but they brought her those and much more. She felt a new sense of self confidence which started with riding but then crossed over into other areas of her life. And that’s one of the things I notice most about doing more of what makes you feel alive – they have this impressive, knock-on effect like a row of dominoes. It doesn’t take much to make the next one fall…
Confidence comes through taking messy action
Confidence was a big part of my conversations with both Sara Belle and Kat from Vandal Kids. Obviously I asked them about it because I’ve been hit with the low-self-confidence stick more times than I care to remember in my life and quite frankly I’m sick of it to the point where my whole identity is in the process of an upgrade. Maybe that’s why I enjoy this idea of rebellion so much? I certainly found my kindred spirit in Kat who confessed to having fought her own battles with confidence and being labelled a bit of an introvert but just look at what she’s achieved in just a few short years of running her own children’s clothing brand? Did you hear the part about winning a silver in the Junior Design Awards with her first collection? You don’t need to be loud to be disruptive, you don’t need to have experience to do things differently, it’s probably better you don’t actually, and you don’t need to be good at drawing to be a creative visionary. Ideas are worth gold, you just have to have the courage to act on them. Gemma reminded us to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and Sara said “if you’re not shitting yourself on a regular basis, you’re not really challenging yourself” and ultimately it’s that zone of discomfort thats going to bring us real growth.
This sentiment was echoed by Adam from Plight Club who gave us so many insights around vulnerability and the sheer power of talking about our emotions. Leaning into our feelings instead of running away from them will set us free in the long run, no matter how painful it might be at the time. He is on a similar quest, to help create more connection between people, facilitate deeper conversations and rebel against staying the same.
Rebelling against the ordinary
And that’s what it’s really about at the end of the day. This podcast and these ideas that I am tentatively calling a movement are about building enough confidence, courage and curiosity to enable us to pursue more of the things that make us feel alive, so we can experience freedom, adventure and true connection with likeminded people and then use them to create positive change.
Playful disruption starts with us. It starts with the tiny changes we make in our own lives that take us slowly slowly out of that comfort zone and into that sweet spot known as the stretch zone. I call it the micro-mischief! Trying to render each day a little more fun, maybe doing something that scares you or approaching things a bit differently so we are gently pushing ourselves in new directions and showing up as the most fabulous, badass, multi-faceted human beings that we are!
As Lauren from Peggy’s Difference so eloquently put it “Life is just too fucking short! If you’ve got that fire in you, that need to do it, you just need to fucking do it and you need to forget what anyone says! At the end of the day, you are the most important person. There’s no point living a life you don’t want to live.”
OK, so I lied about the eloquent part! But I do love Lauren’s ability to be direct. It’s like an ass-kick with kindness and a cheeky sense of humour! Much like this whole series really!
How to be a podcast guest
Which brings me on to the last part. The movement. After 12 episodes, I still don’t have all the answers but I am seriously loving these conversations so I’m going to keep having them! I dream of creating a community with a shared love of making mischief in the context I’ve described – the wanting to empower each other, to learn, grow, disrupt the status quo and I feel like so far we’ve barely scratched the surface so I’m definitely game for another chapter if you are?!
I’m going to take a short break to gather more interviews and finish the editing so if you know someone who would be a great fit for this podcast, please do get in touch or urge them to contact me. My only criteria is that you love the Foo Fighters as much as me, otherwise I’m afraid we just can’t be friends anymore… Joking, joking. I do have a few sparse friends that don’t like Dave Grohl. But as I was saying, all genders, all ages, all races, no-one is excluded. You don’t have to have your own business or be an entrepreneur. You don’t have to be middle-aged or a parent. If you have a zest for life, a taste for disruption, a legacy to leave or a story to share, you know where to find me!
Speaking of which, you might also be a small brand looking for advertising or sponsorship opportunities so if this is you and you feel like we are a good fit with a similar mission, please do get in touch. There are at least another 12 episodes on their way so that’s 12 separate occasions for me to promote you. It would be lovely to meet some bigger brands too who could pay their own way then gift a second slot to a start-up or smaller business. How’s that for divergent thinking?! C’mon guys, let’s play this whole podcasting game differently!
Anyway, I’ve probably talked enough and besides, stuff to do right?! we’ve got a rebellion to uphold! If you’re enjoying what you’ve heard so far and would like to shout me a coffee by way of thanks, you can do so via the page on this website, cunningly named ‘buy me a coffee!’ Cheeky huh?! Good! Because confidence is badass! Have I taught you nothing here?! Haha!
Please continue to spread the word, send me your suggestions and write me feedback so I can keep producing the content you love!
For now, stay well my friends and remember, always make more mischief…