Paddleboarder Jo Moseley shares how she finds magic in the everyday.

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the last year, it’s the power of community. The wisdom of those we surround ourselves with (virtually or otherwise) can make all the difference to how we live and work – and how we feel. How do other women manage to stay ‘up’ and face major challenges? How on earth have they got through 2020 and remained motivated? Midlife adventurer and paddle boarder Jo Moseley shares her take on surviving and thriving.

Describe your expertise and your typical clients or audience. 
Alongside my lovely day job and freelance aqua fit instructing, I speak, write and make tiny award winning films about the joy of standup paddleboarding (SUP), walking in the hills and beach cleaning, with a focus on enhancing mental and emotional wellbeing. I have also just launched a podcast – The Joy of SUP – The Paddleboarding Sunshine Podcast. My audience is typically women in 40s – 60s. However, I also have a younger audience who tell me they find it reassuring to know that you can still go on adventures and follow your dreams in your mid 50s!

What is your superpower, the one skill that makes you unique, that your clients or audience love you for? 
I’m a joy encourager! I want to encourage other women to find their own joy and make that an important part of their life. Joy is a central theme in my talks, podcast and the film, Brave Enough, about my coast to coast paddleboarding adventure in 2019, picking up litter and fundraising.

Using your unique expertise and insights please share your top tips for thriving as an entrepreneur/businesswoman. 
My approach over the last few years has been to build up different income streams and understand that, for me, having a day job alongside my freelance work is the right strategy. As a single parent, I needed to know I could look after my sons whilst also pursuing my creative + entrepreneurial interests. There is no one to catch me financially or provide a cushion if things go wrong – I am my own back up plan!

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about not placing too much pressure on your creative work by expecting it to pay the bills early on in your career. I am essentially reinventing my career in midlife so this advice has been invaluable. As an empty nester, it is also really beneficial for my wellbeing to have a day job. I value the friendship and connections this brings and the perspective it offers. It is a healthy reminder of life beyond my laptop! I think it is important for women who are looking to change careers or build a new business in midlife to do what works for them both from a financial point of view and health and wellbeing. My advice would be: 1) It doesn’t have to be all or nothing; 2) Understand the level of risk you are happy to work within; 3) Know your financial situation inside out and 4) Create a business model and life that works for you.

Describe your darkest moment of 2020 and what you learned from it about surviving and thriving? 
The darkest moment was at the very beginning when lockdown was looming and I wasn’t sure how my Dad would get food or medicine as he lives alone by the coast a couple of hours from me. I was really quite scared. Once we had things in place for him, I was much happier. I learned once again the power of community. We don’t have to do everything alone and together we can find a solution. Asking for help is something I am not good at even though I love helping others. However, it is a lesson I am carrying into many of the projects I’m working on at the moment. Collaboration can create so much more – together in purpose when we are separated physically.

In what ways has the global pandemic led to you changing how you work and earn your living? I have different income streams and these changed through the pandemic. I lost part of my income as the swimming pool closed and I am not able to teach aquafit. Some of my speaking engagements were cancelled too. However, I moved these online with Zoom talks and through word of mouth and recommendations these became really successful. I have been able to speak to groups across the country which otherwise wouldn’t have happened. It’s important to look for solutions and be nimble.

What new work habits have you created in the last year that really help? 
I think the pandemic has, surprisingly, made me bolder and braver. I feel more confident to seek out new ideas or ways of working. I value my time and contribution to things more. This also includes saying ‘no’ to opportunities or requests which I don’t feel are right. I often think of the Margaret Drabble quote, ‘when nothing is sure, everything is possible’ and now is the time to let go of old habits and bring in new ones. Life is short and very precious and if we have an opportunity to make a difference, we really need to take it and make the most of it as we don’t know what is round the corner. Being braver is my new habit!

How do you stay positive and motivated when the chips are down? 
I am grateful for the fact that while my income has been affected, I am in an incredibly fortunate position of being well, having a job, freelance income, a warm home and can feed my family. I have friends and family I can talk to, fresh air and nature on my doorstep and a sense of purpose in my work. Gratitude helps remind me how fortunate I am and opens up possibilities for the future. As midlife women I think we also have that deep well of experience of tough times that we can draw upon. I don’t think any of us reaches our mid fifties without having gone through heartbreak, loss and struggle. We are still standing and this gives me hope for tomorrow even when today is looking bleak.

One of the themes of our film, Brave Enough is around breaking down a project into the tiniest of steps, holding our breath and trusting ourselves to start. To be brave enough to take just one tiny step and then another and then one more. This has really helped me during the pandemic when, like everyone, my anxiety levels increased and my ability to concentrate decreased! I would literally tell myself it’s just one tiny step and then another and give myself permission to stop when I needed to. I think we need to be extra kind to ourselves at the moment and appreciate we are building businesses and communities in extraordinary times.

What is your next project or goal and what are you doing now to help make it happen? 
I recently (on Christmas Eve!) launched my podcast, The Joy of SUP. I am looking forward to building a community around it and sharing all the health, happiness, friendship, adventure and possibility of paddleboarding through the stories of my wonderful guests. There is a huge learning curve in creating a podcast and it’s both exciting and terrifying to embrace all the new technology and skills.
Along with my friend and filmmaker Frit Sarita Tam I am also launching the featurette film Brave Enough about my coast-to-coast paddleboarding adventure in 2019, picking up litter and raising money for The Wave Project and 2MinuteBeachClean Foundation. I am looking forward to sharing the beauty of the canals and the joy of believing in your dream in your 50s. We are also going to have to be creative in how we reach our audience so that will be an adventure in itself.

Where you do you go time and again for inspiration and fresh thinking? I find that being outside, walking in the hills or paddleboarding on the canals or sea is a great place for me to find inspiration and be creative. Nature opens up possibilities and ideas I hadn’t thought of sitting in front of a screen. I love Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast, Brene Brown Unlocking Us and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons. I also love Liv Bolton’s The Outdoors Fix. Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle and Elizabeth Gilbert’s writings always inspire me.

A wonderful lesson from my paddleboarding challenge was that there is magic in the everyday, we can find the extraordinary in the ordinary and adventure on our doorstep. I have taken that into 2020 and 2021. Inspiration and joy is all around us if we open our hearts and minds to the tiny moments. Even within all the sadness we can find joy – the blue skies and sunshine above the clouds.
With thanks to Jo Moseley, and Twitter @healthyhappy50. Instagram @healthyhappy50 and @thejoyofsuppodcast_.Facebook @thejoyofsuppodcast.

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