Postcards From Midlife: Meet the Former Magazine Editors Redefining Middle Age For Women - The Gloss Magazine

Postcards From Midlife: Meet the Former Magazine Editors Redefining Middle Age For Women

Former magazine editors Trish Halpin and Lorraine Candy are on a mission to change the conversation around midlife, one podcast at a time …

I hold Trish Halpin and Lorraine Candy largely responsible for a crack in my parents’ ceiling. Years of following their work at some of the UK’s most prestigious women’s titles, where they edited Marie Claire and Elle respectively, resulted in quite a robust collection which took pride of place in my childhood home. Growing up in a converted bungalow, I used the attic adjacent to my room as my personal library for at least a decade’s worth of magazines. Alongside the lure of the fashion pages and beauty tips, their titles helped me navigate the world around me and undoubtedly inspired my own career. 

When I started working in the industry, they offered a blueprint for generating important conversations amongst a female readership. Even after I moved out, and my mum insisted the roof would fall in on them eventually, I refused to consign my treasured collection to a skip. My parents eventually gave up and a generous lick of paint covered the offending crack long enough for them to forget the root cause. 

Now, there’s a lighter way to access their wisdom. Following the departure from their respective print titles (Lorraine had followed her successful tenure in Elle with a stint editing The Sunday Times Style magazine) the two have joined forces to produce Postcards From Midlife, a podcast that celebrates this time of transition for women. While the audio looks forward with factual optimism it’s peppered with reflections on the years that are documented so weightily in my parents’ attic. “We come from a magazine background so we want to give people tips,” says Lorraine. “We made it in a magazine format and there’s a section on How to Win at Midlife, which can be anything from hair removal on your upper lip all the way to mental health and how to deal with insomnia, so we’ve made it as practical as we can.”

Facing midlife themselves, and a mountain of misinformation around menopause, the media stalwarts set about detangling the facts and serving them with a side of entertainment. “We didn’t really know what menopause was and we certainly didn’t know what perimenopause was,” says Trish. “In the last 18 months since we started the podcast there’s been so much conversation; everywhere, certainly in the UK at least, and I can see in Ireland the conversation is definitely happening, but it wasn’t 18 months ago.”

We didn’t really know what menopause was and we certainly didn’t know what perimenopause was. In the last 18 months since we started the podcast there’s been so much conversation …

Being competitors on the newsstand has resulted in an unlikely partnership, but one that’s been cemented over years of shared experiences. “We would sit together in the front row at fashion shows in the four fashion capitals of the world. Our joy was that we didn’t take that perhaps as seriously as other editors did, and that we were at the same stages of family life. Although, I am younger than she is,” says Lorraine, prompting laughter from Trish. “She does like to drop in that age gap! We were living parallel lives. We were each other’s beacon of sanity amongst the madness of the fashion world.”

The importance of female friendship is a recurring theme on the podcast. “We’ve had a guest who described friends as being your ‘oxygen’,” explains Trish, “they really keep you alive, they keep you going.” Lorraine agrees: “I think it’s as important, if not more important, than marriage at this time of life. They root you, your female friendships. They’ve got your back, and they know you pretty intimately by this point, so it is like a marriage.” 

Life after high profile careers in print came with some adjustment, but both women are embracing their second act. “After 30 years of commuting and going into an office it was like, ‘Wow, after all those years of wishing I could be at home, now I am.’ I started doing some freelance consultancy and then we started the podcast and I was able to spend some time with my twins, and then lockdown happened. So it sort of forced the situation to become comfortable and I got used to being at home. And I think the success that the podcast has had, and where it has taken us, means that I get to do the best bits of my old job, which were interviewing and meeting amazing women. But I do still miss my team,” Trish says.  

“I think you do go through an identity crisis, you wonder what the point of you is,” says Lorraine. “It does take a lot longer than you think it will, this reinvention. You do have to reframe it slightly, but it’s a bit of a void. The Australian author, Kathy Lette put it brilliantly when she was a guest on the show. She said, ‘There’s a pause between act 1 and act 2 and you’re stuck in the pause bit for a while, wondering what you can do.’ I knew that I couldn’t be a stay-at-home mother because everyone would be murdered if I did that. 

“Trish and I are still going through the journey, but I think if I could advise women on one thing, it’s just to be patient with yourself, and be kinder to yourself. It’s a bit like being a teenager again, it’s a bit of a ‘who am I and what’s it all about’ moment. You need a bit of time and patience with yourself.” 

Trish agrees: “We’ve been going at literally 150 miles per hour for 25 years and suddenly you have a bit of time – you get that like work ethic or catholic guilt that you should be doing something. That, for me, took a while to adjust to. But I did adjust and now my days take on a different pattern, a much more enjoyable, less exhausting one.” 

Detaching your sense of identity from a role you’ve held for a large portion of your adult life can be challenging. “I’ve had a job since I was 16. I didn’t go to university so my whole identity is tied to my role and mothering and doing the two things at the same time. Julia Samuel, the psychotherapist, talked on the show about living losses. It’s not just when people die that you experience loss; it’s when you lose a job or a child leaves home, or a relationship comes to an end. There’s a huge number of divorces later in life – all of those things are living losses. Your identity is tied to all of those things you can lose in midlife, so it is about reframing.” 

With six teenagers between them, parenting gets plenty of airtime on the podcast too. Lorraine’s book on the subject ‘Mum, What’s Wrong with You?’: 101 Things Only Mothers of Teenage Girls Know has become a bestseller. “This is the stage of life when people have teenagers and they’re going through hormonal changes (particularly girls), while you’re going through a hormonal depletion. It’s a hot house of things. There’s a lot to be said for what they call ‘pot plant parenting’. If you can step back, they can parent themselves a little bit more efficiently, they’ll be slightly more resilient. And look, the difficult years are ahead. You’re not going to get through those seven or eight years without something quite dramatic and painful happening, and being at peace with that and calming yourself around that is the better way around it.” 

Listen to Postcards From Midlife on Acast and Apple podcasts.


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