Speaking to the host of The Midlife Manifesto podcast – Lesley Ellis
Hi, how are you all doing? Hopefully ok as we enter our 3rd week of ‘staying at home’ in the UK. I do think that despite the horrific numbers, there has a been a significant shift in acceptance this week and a boost in creativity as people look for enjoyable, productive and different ways to filling their time. Creative thinking is not just about crafting, painting or writing etc, it can also be about finding solutions to problems and trying something new when your planned path hits a big fork in the road.
I hope that the positive out of all this is that we will remember and continue the ‘new’ things we did, whether that be spending time doing family quizzes on Zoom, camping in the garden, cooking new dishes or just not being as hung up on ‘routine’ as we normally are. It’s been a joy to see so many photos or posts of people finding inventive ways to pass the time and simply ‘have fun’ – since when has that ever been on the list of normal life? And yet now we are prioritising exactly that, which HAS to be a real plus point in all of this.
My daughter made us all swap clothes for ‘clap for carers’ this week and we’re going to continue every Thursday, I’m in her swimming gear in case you are wondering!
Which brings me nicely on to my Blog interview today, with my lovely friend, Lesley Ellis. I know Lesley through a mutual friend and have always been drawn to her infectious smile, unusual stories and adventurous spirit. When I caught up with her last year, she was considering doing a podcast and so I told her to go for it and put her in touch with Alex the producer at ABS Media who I knew did Two Norther Lasses podcast.
Over the last few months, she’s been interviewing her guests, getting everything ready and finally The Midlife Manifesto, with Lesley and friends has been launched into the podcast world! Woohoo!
I wanted to talk to Lesley about how she got to this point, tap into her enthusiastic approach to life and discover what we can learn from her ‘yes I can do that’ attitude, so here we go…
(laughs) No there’s a few things, so I’m a Property Investor, the TV Mum from BBC’s ‘Back in Time for Tea’ series (2018), wife to Jonny and Mum of 3 (and 2 dogs!) and now a Podcast Host!
Lesley and her family, all dressed up for BBC’s ‘Back in time for tea’
Note: Just to explain, the ‘Back in Time for Tea’ series with the Ellis’s and hosted by Sarah Cox was all about ‘going back in time’, quite literally for several months – their house was changed several times to fit the era and they ‘lived’ the life a family at that time, meals, dress, work, occasions, everything! It was really popular; such an interesting series and Lesley was involved in a lot of the publicity surrounding the show. To hear more about this, listen to Lesley’s interview with Two Northern Lasses here.
When I was involved in all the BITFT promotion, we did a lot of radio interviews and I really enjoyed doing them. I made some good connections and people kept asking me to come back to talk about other things such as the cleaning products I make for myself and also another passion of mine, cycling (Lesley is a member of the Queensbury Queens of the Mountain Cycling Club).
I found the TV Live interviews terrifying, but radio is my happy place. When I was younger, I was in a band called The Groove and spent time in the studio, so radio feels nostalgic and more natural to me.
As for the topic for the podcast, I literally woke up one morning and the idea was right there, already fully formed. We both then spoke about Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic theory coming into play here!
I wanted to create a podcast that was all about sharing women’s inspirational stories linked to the midlife stage to get across that this can be such a positive time in your life, not necessarily the negative portrayal sometimes in the media. Now more than ever there are huge opportunities out there for women to really go for it, whether that be to change your career, start a business, take on a challenge, move to another country etc, the list is endless and I want to dispel the myth that it’s all down hill from your 40’s and 50’s and encourage my listeners by hearing these transformational stories.
I sent my idea out to friends on FB asking who would be interested in sharing their stories and hey presto, many replied so I now had to do it!
What has your experience been like of doing the interviews so far?
Way more than I imagined, I’ve been blown away and sometimes moved to tears! I’m surprised how vulnerable people have been prepared to be, it’s been amazing. I suggested it was probably because they are friends and so she has that deeper level of connection and trusted her to be able to tell the story in the right way.
Little Lesley, with the same twinkle in her eye as she does now!
Growing up, who influenced you? Who do you think nurtured your adventurous spirit?
I hold myself back and procrastinate a lot (I’m in shock at this point!). When I was little, I was a real introvert and liked to be on my own. I played piano from age 4 and would spend hours at Pudsey library reading books. From age 5 I wrote poems and made tunes up in my head. My Dad was a musician too playing piano and guitar, but he never quite lived up his potential and became a credit controller instead, maybe that spurred me on?
At age 10 I also had a good friend who was like Bonnie Langford, really outgoing and confident and I think she rubbed off on me and brought me out of myself. These days I’m more an extrovert (ENFP on the Myers Briggs scale), (since Corona isolation I’ve spoken to Lesley and she’s finding it hard to not be out and around lots of people as I think many extroverts are).
The next conversation follows on from discussions we’ve had in the past!
Why do you consider yourself not creative? And do you accept after reading Big Magic and our conversations that actually you are?
Because I can’t draw for toffee! I suppose I see that as a bit of a failing because I was good at all subjects at school other than art – teachers and my parents reinforced the idea that art was not for me and I couldn’t do it! (inward sigh, teachers and parents have so much to answer for in this area!).
I’m also a perfectionist and if anything hit a hurdle and didn’t look good in my eyes, I’d stop doing it!
We then talked about my theory of ‘process not perfectionism’ and also that Lesley is actually very creative because she used to write songs, still sings and loves music, cooks, bakes (even had her own catering business at one point!), used to like icing biscuits (how is that not art in itself?) and now of course does the podcast, creating all the interviews and marketing materials for it! – CASE CLOSED, and let this be a lesson to everybody who thinks they are not creative!
Pure artistic talent right there! Lesley’s iced biscuits and buns!
What other hobbies do you do in your spare time?
I normally cycle with the club, but I’ve been injured since Summer. They’re a great bunch and we do all kinds of challenges such as the Newcastle to Edinburgh, coast to castles route. I would like to start song-writing again too.
How do you talk to yourself? Is there an inner critic in there?
I’m much better as I’ve got older and become more interested in self-development, I’m more self-aware now. I believe the biggest value we can have is kindness, so I’ve decided to turn that inwards. When I was younger it was a lot different, I remember going on a social marketing 3-day course and walking into a big room where everyone was chatting and I was so shy, my internal dialogue was awful, i.e., ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you so pathetic?’ and so I tried to change it to ‘ok this is not your comfort zone but smile and go and sit in that corner!’.
Do you have any self-care rituals you practice regularly?
I do but I’m inconsistent! In an ideal world, I’d get up early, write in journal, meditate and go on my indoor bike. I’m also a migraine sufferer and so I should follow my routine to help that such as drink water first thing, take supplements and drink celery juice – I try but I’m a bit rubbish at it!
Your children are growing up fast ( ages 16,18 & 20) and will embark on working life soon, what advice do you give to them?
I’ve always said open as many doors as possible, G.C.S.Es are just the way to get to ‘A’ Levels, then ‘A’ levels are to just open the door to Uni, after Uni, that route finishes and it’s all about creating as many opportunities as possible and keeping your options open. I want them to follow their heart, do something they love, that lights you up and makes a difference to yourself, helps you grow and don’t let life get in the way.
And finally, Lesley, what advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself to not settle for 2nd best, I’m capable of doing anything I want to do, fate does not dictate where you end up, you need that relentless energy to get up and try again. Failure is just a sign to get up and carry on. You can follow signs from the universe, but you also must have the commitment to carry on and not stop.
Fantastic advice I’d say! And with that I have absolutely no doubt that The Midlife Manifesto is going to be a huge success!
I’ve been lucky enough to be one of Lesley’s guests, talking about how past tricky life experiences don’t have to define you. I too was one of the guests who had to take a deep breath and get vulnerable but I knew my story could help others and so it was a no-brainer to share it! Lesley was of course the hostess with the mostess and despite difficult topics, made it thoroughly enjoyable!
Lesley launched my episode on Friday last week, click here for the link and check out all her other fascinating, heart-warming, amazing conversations with her other friends too. This podcast is definitely one to add to your list!
So following this, and the live Facebook interview I did with Suzy Walker, Editor in Chief at Psychologies magazine, all about how creativity can get us through crisis times (click here if you missed it), it has been a very memorable and rewarding week!
Following these amazing experiences, the ideas hotel / big magic in my head has been well and truly open for business, and sleep has gone out of the window! But I do have a whole host of new things I want to do to support people on their creative journeys and with now just 18, YES 18 days to go until my treatment finishes, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be soon kicking chemo side effects to the curb, getting my full energy back (fingers crossed) and cracking on with some fab new projects…watch this space!
Until next time, stay at home, stay safe, get creating and please share with me either in the comments below or via #seekingsparklesofjoy on Instagram.
This is the hashtag I’ve created to help us look for the positives during this tough time, on both of my Instagram accounts: @thecuriouscreativeclub and @soothedbynature (perfect for a daily dose of nature, which we could all do with right now!) and I’d love you to join in and share lots of happy posts.
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
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