Friendships that span 30 years are rarer than they are common, these days.
Terri and Melissa are blessed to have been friends since high school, despite living in different cities and having pretty opposite personalities, in some ways—Terri is an extrovert, and Melissa in an introvert, for example. They also work in different careers, and while their families know one another, they don’t socialize or spend holidays together.
Terri and Melissa remember taking on their first creative endeavor—writing the beginnings of their great American novel on napkins—while sitting in a bar after college. But as time passed and their friendship continued, their creative project was put on hold.
Still, it stayed with Terri and fueled her desire to start something new… which turned out to be the Mixing Up Midlife podcast.
“My kids graduated high school and went to college, and I was sort of left going, ‘Okay… well, what now?’ And I was looking at all of my friends, who were saying things like, “Oh, I’m so sad. I miss my kids.’ I didn’t feel that way at all! I was excited! Listen, I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. They’re awesome. But there’s this whole life waiting to be explored now, and there are adventures to be taken and things to learn. This seems like a great opportunity to do it! Plus, I have always loved to talk,” Terri explains.
She also fully expected Melissa to join her as a co-host.
“Terri knew she could drag me in,” Melissa jokes, “because I was an early podcast adopter. I was obsessed with podcasts from the moment I began listening.”
The name Mixing Up Midlife was born out of Terri’s love of mixing cocktails. “It’s one of my hobbies, and I’m not talking gin and tonic. I make the syrup… I infuse things, and then make something from the infusion. It’s a little bit of chemistry, and a lot of mixing it up. And I love alliteration. When I looked and found ‘Mixing Up Midlife’ was available, I grabbed the URL and prayed that there was nothing coming up on Apple podcasts. I didn’t see anything, so I got to work.”
Terri shares her original purpose for the show, as well as the self-doubt she had to overcome to take on podcasting.
“I wanted to show other women that we could do anything. I noticed that as I was aging, I felt like my life was getting smaller, when I wanted it to be bigger. In order for me to expand, I wanted to challenge myself. I started with things that really scared me. My physical appearance is a tough one for me. I don’t like the way I look in photographs. I don’t like the way I look on video. I don’t like the way I sound on audio. But these are all really important parts of me. And I have a voice that I wanted to share.
“So during one of our first episodes, Melissa and I did a photoshoot in New York City. I was the model. Melissa is a professional photographer, so we went to an Instagram hotspot, and there I was—this old lady twirling and posing for photos. I challenged myself to make my life bigger, and Melissa was so eager and helpful. That was the whole premise of starting the podcast.”
“I was so happy to help out and just be a part of it,” Melissa adds. “I found myself saying, ‘Oh, this would be a great idea.’ Terri would respond, ‘Well, why don’t you come on and talk about it with me?’ Finally, she convinced me, and the topic was photography. I’ve been photographing headshots and portraits for a long time, and I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks to help people feel comfortable. Everyone is more critical about how they look at their current age, especially when remembering how they looked in their 20s. And while we don’t look like we’re in our 20s anymore, we are still beautiful right now. And we have to get used to the way we look. That was what really inspired me to get involved.”
Some of the plans that Terri and Melissa had for their podcast included adventure, like camping and flyfishing. However, the pandemic upended those plans, requiring some adjusting.
“Melissa lives six hours drive time away from me. So, we had to start reinventing ourselves and figure out how to challenge ourselves during the pandemic. The challenges were small and large, and some were meaningful. And I think that’s really something that other women can grab onto. For example, we had an expert in re-inventing your home by downsizing and clearing out the clutter on. She has a unique method which was more clearing mentally. We read her book, we interviewed her, and she gave us some tips. And this is what we do with all of our guests—we ask them to give us some tips, and then we go and do it ourselves. I feel like if we can do it, anybody can do it.”
Since Terri and Melissa had never worked together before, there was of course an inherent risk in creating a podcast together—that it might end up straining their friendship. Melissa recalls, “I don’t think we considered that element. We were just so excited that we were going to do this project together. And then I think it did kind of hit us a little bit that, “Oh, we’ve got a schedule,” or ‘We have to call and discuss our next episode and what we’re doing and plan out times.’ There was definitely an adjustment going from social calls to business calls.”
Terri recounts, “I kept asking Melissa if she was sure she wanted to do it. It was like, ‘If you don’t, it’s ok, because our friendship is more important to me than any podcast.’ I would never sacrifice it for a podcast.”
Terri and Melissa are now reaching other women who need peer support.
The purpose of Mixing Up Midlife is for women to realize that there is so much more life to explore, challenges to be met, and dreams to accomplish. Having great friends and supporters cheering you on and encouraging you along the way makes it that much more doable and fun.
Terri and Melissa both agree that their dream guests would be Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Gilbert.
And they each have a final message for readers:
Melissa: “If I can do it, anyone can do it. Writing is still my secret; I’ve yet to really share things I’ve written. Addressing the challenges like that—keeping yourself hidden—is part of what the podcast is about. I’ve been an introvert all my life, and now, I’m challenging myself. I truly believe that anybody can do what they want to do.”
Terri: “If there is a woman out there thinking, ‘God, I wish I could…’ get in touch with us. If it’s something that we can facilitate, we’ll be happy to. There are things that I’m not sure I would do, like jump out of an airplane. But seriously, if there’s something you need encouragement with, let us know. Because even though I’m an extrovert, I’m also scared. And I push myself to go beyond my comfort zone, because without pushing yourself, there is zero growth… and growing is thriving.”
May 2021 Issue