Kiwi food writer and cook Sophie Gray has teamed up with radio broadcaster Nerida Ashcroft to create a fun and pithy podcast series that looks at the ups and downs of life for women in their midlife years.
I Wasn't Expecting That is a series of conversations between the two friends about issues women typically find themselves navigating in their forties and fifties that they hadn't expected.
The duo claim this generation of women faces issues that no other before them has.
Explains Sophie, who is the editor of Food magazine and founder and director of Destitute Gourmet, "We're in the sandwich years... brought up with an expectation that we would have careers... Meanwhile people are living longer... so you're trying to manage your career as well as look after your ageing parents and in many cases also adult children... In some cases also grandchildren... And then you're dealing with your own guff... a changing appearance, how you feel about yourself, those kind of things.
"They're things we weren't necessarily expecting and aren't very well prepared for because no other generation of women in history has ever had to juggle as many things as ours."
The first podcast is about marriage and raises some interesting points. Both women have been married almost 30 years and have learned that the ideals you set out with as a young bride are often challenged and tested along the way.
"You have ups and downs, there might have been financial issues to sort through, there's all of these sorts of things that you never expected," explains Sophie.
"You'd thought it was going to be easier."
"So it's like looking back and saying 'well I wasn't expecting all of that but here we are and it's all okay'," explains Nerida, who has a radio show on Radio Rhema.
While they both married in an era where weddings marked the beginning of a new journey and couples effectively grew up together, now weddings are more often a celebration of a well-established relationship, Sophie observes. "And I think that's a good thing."
The duo also cover school reunions and dealing with an empty nest.
They've dedicated one podcast to swimwear because Sophie had a demoralising experience where she was ignored by sales staff in a swimwear store who assumed she was the mum of one of their customers.
There's a delightful podcast on make-up, for which they've also filmed a video of themselves putting on false eyelashes.
"Because neither of us had ever done that," Sophie says. "Yet girls wear them routinely and they look amazing.
"There are things like this that have popped up that weren't a part of our world when we were younger - aspects of modern life that we are still trying to come to grips with and sometimes a glass of wine helps enormously," she laughs.
Social media is another thing that has "popped up" but both have embraced it and see it as a useful tool for work. Accordingly, they've set up an Instagram page, @iwasntexpectingthatnz so their listeners can interact with the pair and be part of the conversation.
What makes the podcasts so entertaining is that the two women are almost polar opposites in personality.
"Nerida is adventurous, I am not," Sophie declares. "So if someone doesn't agree with something one of us says, they might find they can relate to the other.
"We're pretty open. Nerida and I have known each other a long time so there is an honesty. But we want to keep a relatively light tone because for a lot of women at this stage of life it's not very easy and we don't want them to go away feeling churned up.
"We want it to be a conversation we're having where they go 'oh my god, I so know what you mean', where they're itching to butt in with their own story."
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