Jones’ Life Experiences Help Others to Thrive Over 55

One of the most beautiful and compelling aspects of podcasting is the ability to spread kindness, self-awareness, and resilience to those who need it most . . . all without having to be face-to-face. Our April Podcaster of the Month, Cheryl Jones understands and fully appreciates how life’s burdens don’t become easier as the years roll on, rather they can build and multiply throughout the aging process. Jones shares her wisdom and supports others through her podcast Thrive55+, which reaches people of all backgrounds and life experiences. Launched in January, the podcast allows individuals to uncover and celebrate more of who they are so they can heal and thrive.

In Thrive55+ Jones shares her expertise and, soon, interviews with inspiring health professionals to offer fresh ways to think. “I introduce practical wellness skills you can apply immediately to feel optimistic and well in body, mind, spirit, heart and soul.”

Jones earned a master’s degree in exercise science and was the director of mindfulness at the American healthcare company, Aetna. She authored Thriving When Your Cosmic Egg Is Cracked: A Mindful Journey, a book about her personal story from surviving to thriving. She was chosen as one of the most powerful women in the mindfulness movement by Mindfulness Magazine and is a staunch proponent of embracing uncomfortable periods in our lives and being curious about what lies behind our fears.

In Thrive55+, you draw on your own experiences of resilience and use your expertise in exercise science and mindfulness to help others 55 and older. At what point did you determine, hey, I need to share these insights in a podcast?

I’ve been experimenting with the best way to bring my authentic voice forward for the past few years. And to find the right medium. I tried videos, blog posts, newsletters, and social media posts. But my message kept getting diluted. I’m a writer and people have always commented that I have a soothing voice. With podcasting being so popular and with encouragement from a friend, I decided to give it a try. 

You tackle some uncomfortable topics that older people face daily but typically don’t want to discuss. Why do you feel it’s important to discuss difficult topics such as divorce, death, pain, and the loss of body functions?

All these topics represent loss and they are part of the human journey. So often we don’t deal with our losses and end up developing negative coping strategies like workaholism, emotional eating, substance abuse, inappropriate sexual behaviors, isolation, and other harmful actions that keep us from healing and eventually thriving. I want to teach people how to integrate loss into the whole of their beings. This is what the journey toward health and wholeness is all about. This is what I am trained to do. This is who I am.

One theme in Thrive55+ is somewhat counterintuitive to our culture of ‘keep going, going, going’ to get through life’s challenges. You recommend taking a step away from the expectations we place on ourselves. How have you found this supports wellness for the 55+ crowd?

Many people over 55 want to develop a new sense of purpose for this next chapter. Those of us with children no longer have daily parenting demands. Some people are retired. In general, we have more time available. Slowing down and stopping to gather ourselves up helps us to go forward with more clarity and intention. It’s about expanding beyond the expectations we put on ourselves to doing more of that which nourishes and energizes.

As a relative newcomer to the podcast industry, what were some of the greatest challenges for you in starting your podcast?

I think the biggest barrier I had to overcome was believing that I had something to say. I asked myself, what might I offer that is unique based on my background and training? And based on some of my unique life experiences? Creating the Thrive55+ podcast was like starting a new business. I needed to create a system to support my need for organization and to ensure that things would run smoothly.

What kind of feedback have you received thus far?

Listeners have been cheering me on. They’ve thanked me for my vulnerability and for keeping it real and relatable. Plus my statistics are above average. All of this is very encouraging and I feel incredibly grateful.

What is your planning protocol for each of your shows?

I’m always thinking of my listeners and what I believe will help them most. Determining the first episode took months. Then I needed to create a flow for the first five episodes. I’ve created a production and release calendar which I’m training myself to follow. It’s helped me to create my own workflow to stay on top and ahead so that I can enjoy this process, and not be stressed out about it. And Blubrry has most certainly made uploading and distributing my podcast a breeze.

What topics can we look forward to in the near future?

My priority for launch was to become a trusted resource for listeners. Soon I’ll be introducing guests who will talk about things like what spirituality is, the role of exercise in managing cancer, sex, romance, and aging, how to overcome ageism in the workplace, and more. I’m asking listeners what they want to hear more about and researching topics addressed by industry leaders on healthy aging.

You mention that there is no AI-generated content in your podcast. With the introduction of Blubrry’s artificial intelligence option in the production process (actually that launches later today), will that still be a steadfast rule for you? If so, why? Or, when do you feel AI could be helpful to you in creating your podcast?

I think it’s great that Blubrry will have this capability and there may be a time when I take advantage of this AI option. The Thrive55+ podcast is my legacy. It represents my desire to share all that I’ve learned over my career in wellness spanning 40 years. And to learn and grow in the process through my guest interviews. I want to continue discovering my authentic voice. 

What is your overarching goal for Thrive55+ and how will you measure success now and in the long run?

My overarching goal for Thrive55+ is to illuminate a pathway to healing and wellness. And to uplift as many people as possible during these very difficult times. Success for me now is all about gaining listeners and hearing their stories. Success long-term will be the same plus growing my coaching business and hosting annual retreats for Thrive55+ listeners.