When life dealt Siobhan Daniels a bad hand in the form of mounting ageism and bullying at work, she embarked on an escape plan that would change her life forever. Opting to take early retirement, she told herself, “I want to change my life, I want to find real happiness”. So, she bought a motorhome and set off on a solo trip around Great Britain. Now Siobhan passionately champions positive ageing and embracing adventure in retirement. Ahead of her live talk for members on Tuesday 8th March, we were lucky to chat to Siobhan and hear a bit more about what motivated her to enter retirement fearlessly!
The Joy Club: What prompted you to give up your flat and buy a motorhome?
Siobhan: I gave up my flat because I was becoming disillusioned with the fact that people were going out to earn lots of money, to buy STUFF that they did not really need so they had little time to spend with family and friends. I wanted to show that you could live with very little and be happy. It was not easy to get rid of things, it was an emotional rollercoaster as it takes you through your life memories. But I can say two and a half years in that it was all worth it and I have never been happier and I know I do not need all that STUFF. It is liberating. The idea of a motorhome just popped into my head one day. I had never ever holidayed in a motorhome or driven one. Once I thought about it it just made sense. I was very nervous driving it and living in it at first but now I miss it when I am house sitting and cannot wait to go back to her- Dora the explorer! I really feel at home and have everything that I need. It gives me the freedom to go where I want and to do what I want. I wake up to some amazing views all over Great Britain and I feel very lucky that this is my life and I am truly living it the way I want to.
The Joy Club: Describe a typical day in your life since moving into the motorhome.
Siobhan: There is no typical day as my plan is to have no plan and to go with the flow, which is the beauty of the life I lead. I look at the maps and decide where I want to go and then read up about that place and the campsites nearby and just book. I love the uncertainty of my life because I am rewarded with getting the chance to wake up every day somewhere new and exciting and many of the views from my motorhome are spectacular.
The Joy Club: What’s the best thing about your current lifestyle?
Siobhan: The freedom and connecting with people and life and not having to pretend. I like that I have come such a long way from my mid-fifties when I felt broken to now in my sixties becoming the woman that I always should have been. I feel more confident and when I say no I mean no and when I say yes I mean yes. I do not let anyone destroy my self-belief anymore. It is empowering. I am able to spearhead change for older women. To help other women have a voice and not let their fears limit them from living their best lives.
The Joy Club: What’s the biggest challenge?
Siobhan: My first big challenge was learning how to drive the motorhome and how to get to grips with how to live in it. It is a learning curve on the road. But my main challenge was getting through the second lockdown when I was in a field on my own for five months. The lack of human contact really got to me. I didn’t have a hug for many months and as a person who was known for hugging everyone, I found that soul-destroying.
The Joy Club: If you could, is there anything you would change about your life now?
Siobhan: No, there is nothing that I would change because it is making me so happy to really live in the moment and to help other women not to feel as bad as I felt. I want to help them and inspire them and from the hundreds of messages that I have received since I was in the national press, I know that I am managing to do that.
The Joy Club: What was your experience as a reporter and producer, during the 30 years in the newsroom and particularly the last two years?
Siobhan: It was a very hard time for me in my mid-fifties in work as there were many times that I was made to feel invisible and voiceless when what I perceived to be ageism and bullying were at play.
The Joy Club: Do you think people are influenced by how old they perceive other people to be?
Siobhan: Very much so and I am all about challenging the ageist stereotypes. We are the age we are and we behave the way we behave for what suits us, not because we have reached a certain age. It makes it easier for people to be pigeonholed in society in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond for advertising, media beauty etc. But I want to get the message out that we are all ageing at different rates and there is no ‘one size fits all’.
The Joy Club: What do you think needs to change in society for ageism to be addressed?
Siobhan: So many things in the workplace, particularly ageist attitudes. We should start educating the younger generation that OLD is not bad. It is not something to be dreaded. There is too much anti-ageing in beauty products, it should be pro-ageing. Marketing and the media also need to look at what images they use to depict elderly, ageing people. No more crinkly hands or white-haired frail people with walking sticks. They need to use better, more representative images, to reflect how we are actually ageing nowadays and the adventure opportunities open to us. To be honest there are many more things that need to change in society to combat ageism. Women are being forced out of work because of ageist attitudes when they cannot get their pensions before they are nearly seventy. So they have to live on a reduced income and that is not acceptable. There needs to be legislation to stop this.
The Joy Club: Aside from living in a motorhome, is there something you do now you are retired that might surprise people?
Siobhan: I honestly think that I constantly surprise people, but that is what makes me relatable as many women feel they cannot do things as they are too old then they see me do it and it inspires them. Horse riding again after forty years, riding a bike after over thirty years. Wild swimming in the English Channel in January. Running marathons in my fifties etc.
The Joy Club: What does adventure look like to you?
Siobhan: It takes all forms. I do not think it has to be drastic like me giving up my home and possessions and getting a motorhome. It can just be simple life changes that make you live more positively and feel a bit challenged to overcome something.
The Joy Club: What is your favourite achievement, and why?
Siobhan: Having my daughter and being a single mother. Knowing that she has grown up into a fabulously strong young lady who I am proud to call my daughter. I am also proud to be a retirement rebel. It has taken courage to face my fears and to speak out about ageism, bullying and many other factors that contribute to women having a hard time in their late fifties and 60s. I am proud that my message is getting out there to help others not feel as bad as I was made to feel.
The Joy Club: Do you have any goals you’d like to achieve?
Siobhan: I want to get my book published in October and to become a go-to voice for the retirement rebellion and positive ageing. I want to live life as best I can and never stop being curious and adventurous. I always wanted to go to the OUTER HEBRIDES and I am on my way now and I cannot wait.
The Joy Club: What inspires you?
Siobhan: My mother, who sadly has died, but she was such a strong woman who always saw the best in people and who loved life. Strong, adventurous women, in general, inspire me.
The Joy Club: What would your advice be to somebody heading towards retirement?
Siobhan: Do not dread it but see it as the best phase of your life and do what truly makes you feel happy as we only have one shot at living. Be a retirement rebel, face your fears, do not limit yourself by thinking that you cannot do something, just do it and see how amazing you will feel afterwards.
There’s still time to book your place at Siobhan’s live talk to members, taking place tomorrow (Tuesday 8th March 2022) at 10.30am. Click here to find out more!