Being healthy & happy through midlife, menopause & beyond!
The joy of physical, mental & emotional wellbeing through menopause.
Jo Moseley, 54, is a Mum from Yorkshire, flying solo with her sons, Henry, 22, and Johnny, 18. We’ve been following her @healthyhappy50 adventures and words of joy and encouragement on social media for some time.
Jo is passionate about sharing the joy that physical, mental and emotional wellbeing exercise and being kind to herself has brought during her menopause.
Happiest in a wetsuit, she loves wild swimming & bodyboarding in the cold North Sea. She fulfilled a life-long dream of learning to surf at 53, screaming with joy for the full 4 seconds she rode the wave!
This summer Jo completed a 162 miles coast to coast, stand up paddle boarding journey along the canals, picking up litter and making a film about being brave, finding your purpose and tiny adventures in midlife.
We’ve asked Jo to enlighten us about her adventure and share her summer story.
PP - What inspired you to paddle the canals coast to coast?
Jo - Great question! It was lots of different ideas & hopes that came together to create #paddleboardthenorth.
a) My youngest son starts university this October and as a single Mum this will be a massive new chapter for me. I wanted a dream that would pull me to the future and give me a project to build upon rather than dread the “empty nest” moment.
b) I wanted an adventure on my doorstep that allowed me to fundraise, pick up litter and show both the beauty of the canals & waterways & the problem of plastic pollution.
c) I love water and paddleboarding and being able to spend 11 days just focussing on that sounded blissful!
When I looked at all these ideas, paddleboarding coast to coast seemed perfect!
Being the first woman to do it - my friend Jason did it in February - and at 54, was an extra bonus. A personal accomplishment for me but also as importantly a way to show that you are never too old for an adventure!
PP - What preparation did you need to make?
Jo - Preparation fell into 5 different categories: physical, mental, logistics and fundraising & publicity.
The physical meant paddleboard training on the canals & sea, kettlebells, yoga and spin. I have plantar fasciitis in my foot (thankfully it’s gradually healing) so running was out and spin at 0630 took its place. I actually enjoyed the classes very much and am back doing them!
The logistics involved deciding how many miles I would cover each day and what each section entailed. Then it was accommodation, nutrition, kit, transport to and from the canal. I also wanted to avoid single use plastic on the route as far as possible so I made my own bliss balls for snacks!
The fundraising was setting up my Just Giving accounts for The Wave Project & 2 Minute Beach Clean. I then shared the message in a positive way so people knew what I was aiming to raise. I hoped to share what The Wave Project does for young people’s mental health & the 2MinuteBeachClean for the oceans respectively, why they mean so much to me and how grateful I am for every donation.
Publicity was sharing the adventure & the reason behind it as positively as I could across my social media. I wrote for lots of websites & contacted my local press! That was scary but I knew it had to be done!
The mental preparation was perhaps the hardest. I wrestled with feeling guilty for bringing a huge new project into our already busy lives, especially as my eldest son was finishing his Masters and my youngest was doing A levels. As middle aged women we are juggling and supporting so many people, we aren’t used to putting our needs first. That was the toughest element for me - overcoming a feeling that I was being selfish.
I did however take advice from the fabulous Yorkshire Rows who said that believing in themselves was their superpower and once they decided to row the Atlantic in their 40s & 50s, nothing was going to stop them. That was the best mental preparation once I overcame the guilt!
Interestingly, having completed the challenge I realise I didn’t need to worry so much about being selfish! I think all middle aged women deserve an adventure! We need to give each other & ourselves more permission to just go for it!
PP - What did you learn along the way?
Jo - Oh so much!
A) I’m stronger and braver than I thought,
B) the canals are amazing and I want to keep looking after them,
C) ‘self care’ during an adventure helps you reach the goal (sleep, nutrition, being kind to myself when it got tough)
D) Living in the now is such a joy, focussing on each day & celebrating every mile covered & obstacle overcome
E) People are incredibly kind and generous (I’ve exceeded my original fundraising!)
Oh so many... I’ll save a few to share at your event in October!
PP - What was the highlight of your journey?
Jo - The highlight was Friday 02 August. I paddled 25 miles that day and reached my home town at 10.30pm! I started the day paddling through Foulridge Tunnel which is a mile long and which I had had a few sleepless nights about beforehand! I was joined by a friend from the 2 MinuteBeachClean community who came all the way from Essex to litter pick & chat and other friends along the way.
Paddling alone in the evening dusk was magical. I heard the sheep in the fields, watched oystercatchers swoop overhead and was joined by swans and geese. Fairy lights on the narrow boats and houses on the towpath guided me home. As I squeezed under the lowest swing bridge at 10.15pm, I felt this thrill of being brave and strong. I thought my heart would burst with joy!
PP - Were there moments when you found it more of a challenge than you bargained for?
Jo - Yes! The whole thing was physically harder than I had really imagined. Also, we had thunderstorms and constant rain for the first 48 hours! There was also a lot of weed in some areas which made paddling incredibly hard physically and very slow going. I also found the plastic pollution very distressing and wish I could have done more every single day to help that.
PP - Did you achieve more than you anticipated?
Jo - Yes! I have raised more money than I set as my goal. I also feel personally that it has made me stronger and more self confident about my future. I’m making all sorts of plans for my future that I might not have dared to dream about beforehand.
PP - What would you say to encourage and inspire other women to make their dream a reality?
1. Know that your dream deserves your attention and time. You are worth it. You may have spent a lifetime backing others, it’s time to back yourself.
2. Give your idea a name/an identity - a hashtag if you want! Mine was #paddleboardthenorth. Let it grow its own identity.
3. Start before you’re completely ready. Don’t wait for a perfect time. When you start you have something to build upon, bit by bit, step by step.
4. Launching an idea creates a kind of magic and you start seeing and receiving opportunities to make it happen!
5. You don’t have to do it all alone - let people help you and be part of your dream. It’s ultimately down to you but a team of cheerleaders is hugely helpful.
6. Be very careful about whose opinion you take into consideration. Some people will be negative so be careful if they simply want to bring you down. That’s their problem, don’t let them steal your dream.
7. Enjoy it! Fall in love with the process, the journey, the lessons you learn, people you meet and the person you become. That’s as important to me as reaching the goal.
PP - Are you planning any other adventures in the near future?
Jo - I’m going back to the areas which were worst affected by plastic to do community pickups so we can make more of a difference together.
I’m also paddleboarding on The Thames in September!
We are making a short film about the #paddleboardthenorth too.
I’m also researching becoming a SUP instructor so I can help more women enjoy the experience and feel amazing on the water in their own adventures!
Jo Moseley - HealthyHappy50
Photography by courtesy of Frit Sarita Tam & Jo Moseley
Jo will be inspiring us with her uplifting story of being healthy and happy through mid-life and menopause at our Feelgood Fair in Manchester on 5th October.
We’re thinking of introducing her to the soundtrack of Hawaii 5-0.... she says “that’d be great!”