CATS | ANECDOTE | PET OWNERSHIP

A mum states her case

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After a harrowing experience at the vet last week, I stumbled home and collapsed into an emotional heap. My partner took one look at me and asked if I was okay. I shook my head steadily, gathering my thoughts.

At a higher-than-normal pitch, my tremulous voice conveyed astonishment and begged for compassion as I recounted the morning.

The vet was, as always, charming, as was his assistant, but my boy cat surely tested their patience as he caused havoc in every way possible. I know pets can be frightened at the vet, but I also know my kitten. …


An intentional year seeking health brought profound learnings.

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‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you,’ according to Anne Lamott.

We will all remember 2020 and the impact it had on us personally. Here’s what I discovered about myself and this thing called life, after unplugging for one year. At the age of 47.

Up until March 2020, I had worked for a dynamic business owner for 15 years. The first 11 were exhilarating: fast lanes, quick thinking and cross-cutting dimensions. Through the last four years, however, I had drifted into poorly matched roles. …


Anecdote | Perspective

A dog lover’s epiphany

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The very qualities that made me feel I could be a calm, Stoic first time cat parent have made me an obsessive, submissive wreck of a mother. My days are spent anticipating their needs and desperately trying to earn their love.

‘You’re either a dog lover or a cat lover. I am a dog lover!’, I often boasted. Some of my friends have admitted that the core malfunction in their relationship stems from one partner loving cats and the other loving dogs. Not wishing to test this, I didn’t date or even befriend anyone who wasn’t a dog lover. …


Building muscle not only for your physical health, but your brain health too.

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It is rare that an Instagram post has me sitting up in my chair feeling like I need to make a change.

The post’s heading, ‘Muscle is the Key to Longevity’, caught my attention initially, but it’s what I learnt from the interview that got me scrabbling for a tape measure–with a sit-up and lunge on the way­­–fearing for my brain health. ‘The wider the waistline, the lower the brain volume’, the doctor stated, ‘Diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia–they happen in midlife!’

Oh, my word, I care about my physical health, but even more about my cerebral health. As I…


Equipped with some kindness, I am making changes.

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I have always been wary of ‘self-love’ mottos, embracing my low self-esteem and rejecting calls for more self assurance. It became my personal brand, no harm to myself and a non-threatening gift to my family and friends. But over time, I noticed two destructive patterns:

  • As I bought into my negative self-talk, I let opportunities pass, thinking they were beyond me.
  • I was using self deprecation to side step accountability and avoid the challenge of self improvement. To my mind then, I was making a mockery of myself to the world; wasn’t that responsibility enough?

Some friends cared enough to…


Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

The power of realizing enough is enough.

Raised by a dynamic powerhouse of a mother, my siblings and I became accustomed to hearing her daily mantra, “Hard work always prevails!”. My mother trained as a nurse and often held down more than one job at a time to ensure she gave us as many opportunities as she could.

Working hard meant putting the time in which proved itself in one way: “more”. More promotions, more money, more achievements, more homes, more holidays… more worries.

A few years ago, whilst on holiday to see my brother, I scurried down Manhattan’s 6th Avenue, hoping to keep up with him…


It’s toning my body, while toughening my mind.

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Running never interested me in my early days and it still doesn’t now in my late 40s, but I have discovered benefits that far outweigh my displeasure.

Like so many people I talk to, I got to an age where I was finding it harder to shed that extra kilo or two, and hours at my desk every day were not helping. When I was younger, I could keep on top of my weight. If nothing else worked, I could rely on nervous energy to burn off unwanted pounds, but that just isn’t the case anymore. …


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A list of foods proven to benefit your overall strength and well-being.

When I was 11 years old, my mum and I were waiting at the checkout line of a popular pharmacy in South Africa, to pay for our vitamins. Just as we approached the counter, we paused to the sound of a frail voice from the back of the queue. An aged man with a distinguished colonial English accent summoned, ‘what is the natural herbal remedy for memory loss?’ The pharmacist answered in an unsurprised voice, ‘Gingko Biloba, sir’. A minute and a half later, the same voice with the same style came back and recited the question in the same…


Manage your days to reclaim your nights.

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

My sleep troubles began in my early thirties. Nothing significant had happened beyond life’s normal trials and tribulations, so I ignored the newly developed habit and hoped it would pass. I was living in Spain when the sleep deprivation got out of hand, and I explored a range of local ‘treatments’. Whether with an extra glass of wine at night, a puff of my flatmate’s cannabis ‘nightcap’ or a mild sedative, I got through my 30s with sleep in the red.

In my 40s, I started traveling more for work and moved to London. It was during these next years…


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Don’t use work as the barometer for ‘worth’.

As a young, eager to impress, marketing executive in my early twenties, I recall my surprise when a senior manager announced he has never worked on a Sunday and never intends to.

We were working on a major project at the time and our CEO asked us all to work over the weekend. I, raised by a workaholic and unconsciously developing a soon to be lifelong habit of using my achievements (or lack of) to define my self-worth, jumped at the request. Cancelling a long-planned family lunch seemed acceptable, and I willingly set off bright and early that Saturday morning…

Fiona

Storyteller, ‘midlifer’, underdog & guinea pig for second half well-being. Looking to build better physical, mental & emotional strength. strongsecondhalf.com

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