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Social media’s not just for the kids!

4 Minute Read

Sally Brockway, aged 53, talks about her new online course, Social Media for Mid-Lifers.
When I set up my own PR agency back in November 2016 and started looking for business, I was astounded by the number of highly motivated, intelligent and successful entrepreneurs I met who had no social media presence.

They were mostly over the age of 40 and the very mention of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram was enough to bring them out in a cold sweat. They could just about handle paying somebody to create a website for their business, but had decided that social media was for the kids.

It’s not and to prove a point, I devised an online course about social media for people like me who once used a landline to arrange dates, read newspapers made of actual paper and think that wearing a coat when it’s really cold is a sensible decision.
50% of the UK population use social media in some form or other, so why would you choose to be in the half that’s missing out?

I met a business owner the other day whose 87-year-old mother gets her daily news fix from Twitter. She still can’t get over the fact that she knows about stuff a good 24 hours before it appears in the papers.

If the trains are up the spout, your best friend is running a marathon for charity or you are fascinated by soap carving, then social media will give you all the information you need and allow you to make connections with the right people at lightening speed.
My course, which is called Social Media for Mid-Lifers, covers the basics. It will show you how to set up accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I show you around the platforms and explain how to post text, pictures and video. If you really want to impress the kids, I also explain how you can access GIFs (animated sequences), run polls and post a boomerang – not a strange wooden object commonly found in Australia, but a video loop that is all the rage on Instagram.

Many of the older people I meet worry about the lack of privacy on social media, but the fact is, you only post what you want to. You can choose your friends on Facebook and you can decide who will see each individual post. My mum lives in New Zealand for six months of the year, so I often put up family pictures that only she can see, as I don’t want to bore the rest of my social circle with constant news of my children's achievements.
You can also make your Instagram account private so that only followers that you approve can see your posts and you can do the same with Twitter - I show you how to do this on the course and it takes seconds.

You don’t need to use all three of these platforms, it depends on what you are looking for. I first discovered social media when I did some shifts at TV Times magazine. One of the young reporters was always on Facebook and I was curious. Initially, it seemed like such an alien concept. Why on earth would you want to tell everybody what you’ve had for lunch and where you’re going on holiday?

But then people I knew started signing up and soon everyone was talking about it, so I created a Facebook account. I haven’t looked back. I’ve made contact with long lost school friends, stalked ex-boyfriends and spent hours looking at cat videos and I don’t even like cats!

Next, I signed up to Twitter and loved the way I could watch news unfold as it happened and see what people were saying about my favourite TV shows as I watched them.
I was a reluctant Instagrammer, but when I started selling pop-up greetings cards as a sideline, I decided I’d have to get on board. Instagram is a visual platform – you have to post videos or pictures and you also need to get your head around hashtags. In case you are wondering, this # is a hashtag and it’s simply a symbol that enables you to search for posts on a specific topic.

That’s something I talk about in the course and I also give a quick guided tour of a site called, which analyses your hashtags to see how effective they are.
My course consists of 33 video tutorials where you’ll watch me navigate various social media platforms as I give instructions. None of them are much more than six minutes long and I promise I won’t bamboozle you with jargon. It costs £50 and if you type in the code AOA25 you’ll get 25% off.

And if there’s anything you don’t understand, you can always e-mail me on

Don’t be scared, be bold and have fun!

You can buy the course here:

My website is at:

One Middle-Aged Man Reclaims His Body as a Temple

8 Minute Read

‘The human body is the best picture of the human soul.’ Ludwig Wittgenstein

‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own’ 1 Corinthians 6:19

I long since discovered that – like us all - I was born to be a vessel for something greater than myself.

And like most of us, I had spent the first half of my life confused as to what that might be, pouring in various substances and behaviours to get the desired result.

The ubiquitous mistake, of course, is to fail to empty and cleanse the vessel in preparation for that which seeks to enter.

One Sufi master put it this way: ’When I go out, He comes in.’ The injunction is clear – get out of your own way.

And why not, for who wouldn’t want to be penetrated by The Holy Spirit, which promises the ultimate joy – a kiss on the inside of your own heart?

As a young man, I was given devastating glimpses of what was possible, moments of utter bliss that were pure gifts and a joy that could not readily be put into words.

The trap is to spend one’s life chasing that one holy instant rather than accepting it with gratitude, knowing it is a herald for things to come and a peace that passes all understanding.

Given that, it would be sensible to put my own house in order.

But like many of us, my body had its own plans, which ran counter to my varied attempts to corral it under my control.

Looking back on my 55 years – and it’s a big ask for a man to admit this - I ran, pumped weights, shed three stone in three months boxing, took up various martial arts, dropped various martial arts, drank pukey powders, went weight watching, walked The Camino and of course, joined gyms the length and breadth of Britain.

I don’t think I have been to the latest one for months, with more pounds going out than there are coming off. What was missing, of course, were consistent good habits and regular daily disciplines.

Yet I seem to be seasonal and rhythmic – although not in a good way.

It used to be easy. In my 20s, I ran and yomped across the Malverns with a guy from the SAS. At 40, I boxed with other yuppies in Ladbroke Grove, both with heroic turnarounds.

At the end of last year, I began Ju Jitsu, but was soon out of action when the instructor landed on my rib cage with an almighty crunch.

Down the years, I had two girlfriends who were into raw food and, for a time, I would clean up my act. But try as I might, I would always return to couch surfing with an assortment of favourite, salty snacks.

The low point came when I found myself brushing my teeth with my own urine and realized the pendulum may have swung too far the other way.

The simplicity of moderation had always passed me by but the one thing I actually enjoyed was juicing. I started with a 30-day juice fast with raw foodie number one and then completed a 60-day fast on my own in 2015.

I felt vitalized, alive, marvelous.

But in the past two years, my blood pressure and my cholesterol had crept up as my good habits slowly began to unwind. When my iron levels went down, I had tubes inserted both ends to check for cancer.

It was clearly time for a re-think, although there remains no satisfying explanation for my iron deficiency and luckily no cancer.

I had heard about Vital Detox through a superb herbalist, Fiona Milligan, who had begun to despair of my lack of interest in my own body and quite fairly had me pegged as a hopeless case. She had been a key member of the staff team since it began life in Wales.

I turned up for the week at Middlewick outside Glastonbury – now luckily a stone’s throw from me – at the end of January. I had paid, spent three weeks with the flu, and had fallen out of the shower, tearing a cartilage, the day before arrival.

Crutches never look good on a detox but I wasn’t alone. We arrived in various states of health and, swaddled in blankets for morning meditation, turned the place into something resembling a care home with funk.

Groups don’t faze me. Having done and run so many over the years, I tend to stand back (sit back in this case) and pace myself, avoiding the usual temptation to over-talk as people get to know one another.

The warm, allowing atmosphere created by the staff team grants an immediate ease and there is an attention to detail that comes from a genuine love of human beings. (Founder Anna Tolson suggested comfrey oil for my knee and it appeared the next day via someone’s visit to Glastonbury.)

It slowly became clear there was something unusual going on: a business not motivated to make zillions but to reach people in a deeply personal and heart-centred way.

The regimen was strict, not rigid with meditation at 8am and juices and broths at 9am, 12 noon, 3pm, 6pm and 8pm, although everything was optional, including the excellent talks with Fiona, Fran, Barbara, and Annie. If we wanted food, said Anna, food would be provided.

What has been achieved and what is so key to healing - as any good therapist knows - is an emotional container that provides a safety that will allow unconscious material to appear.

Detox does not just mean of the body but the mind and the emotions too and all 26 participants had individual process sessions with members of the team, who have various skills.

I missed using the swimming pool but received a supremely soothing massage from Rachel and a less comfortable yet important abdominal massage with Andrew.

But there was one thing I was not looking forward to – the self-administered colonics known as colemas. I am not overly familiar with having things inserted into me (although my recent colonoscopy had given me fair warning) and I prevaricated for the first few days.

Finally, I hopped up to Fiona and asked for help. She set up the various paraphernalia, including a bucket of water above my head, and left me to it. While I couldn’t say I enjoyed it, I was aware of its importance so I gritted my teeth and surrendered.

By day four, the process was considerably more hardcore than when I started. I was now on daily colemas; the juices were now almost utterly devoid of fruit and I couldn’t wait for the day when there was more going into my mouth than out through my posterior.

Finally, we came out of the fast into raw food and a feast for the senses. People started to notice I had dropped both weight - and crutches - and had that famous fasting glow. I was clear skinned and ready to go.

A month on and now off wheat, dairy and sugar with the odd minor relapse, I turned up at the staff cottage to speak with Anna.

The child of a bohemian mother, after an ‘alternative’ upbringing she had trained as a homeopath but struggled, like many seekers, with what she calls ‘existential angst’, that wrestle to be here, on this earth, in a human body.

She had attempted to heal that split (I call it the wound of the Chiron in Pisces generation) through relationship and had finally reached a devastating rock bottom after another painful ending.

But victory came when her mother gave her Brandon Bays’ book The Journey: she qualified as a practitioner in a few months after chasing seminars around the globe. She condensed the process while working for another detox business and the rest is history.

‘It was a miracle and it was exhausting, but the results of combining detox and journeying were extraordinary. People are so emotionally available because they are so stripped bare.
I had been depressed my whole life not wanting to be here. I went into my rage and have never been depressed since.’

The effect on her relationships was that they transformed from being traumatic to supportive.

With a push from a client, she then set up her own team in Cardigan, before finally moving the centre to Somerset, her intent to create a happy team:

‘My driving force was to do this job but with people who loved each other. We would become an intentional family.’

One week a month that family lives on site in the lee of Glastonbury’s famous Tor and brings its well-being and care to others.

I had known that a session from home with a practitioner or even a series of sessions would not be enough to get me on track. I needed a new foundation.

Happily, I found it.

For more information visit:

The Buck Stops Here

10 Minute Read

People seem to be comfortable telling me their life stories. One of my willing ‘victims’ was Ted Buckwald who I had the pleasure of meeting with his ‘significant other’ Ecuadorean Mercy Medina, his soul mate and partner for the last 4 years. They met playing ping pong. ‘I pinged and she ponged!’ he told me tongue in cheek in Cartagena, Colombia where they approached me in the street beckoning me over as they loved my style of dressing. Ted, at a sprightly 85, looked dapper in his colourful bandana which he changed every day of his life. A man prepared for all seasons!

An amazing storyteller and joker who loved to make willing listeners laugh. A collector not only of 40,000 butterflies which he incorporated into his artwork of blown up photographic butterflies suspended in space, but also of one-liners heard over 40 years on the radio, cinema and TV. In addition to this gigantic collection of words, his thoughts on the power of positivity and happiness would come to him while soaping his lean and fit body in the shower every morning. Thus he would write these down too. Words flowed effortlessly like running water.

He assured me longevity was in his genes as his father Benjamin (known as Buck to be Americanised), had lived to the grand age of 105 and Ted was out to beat Buck by any which-way even if he had to buck the system!

A typical Jewish immigration story starting in Imperial Russia in 1899 when Ted’s grandfather, Joseph Samuel Buckvald, a tailor, wanted a better life fleeing from anti-Semitism, first to Vienna then moving after World War One to America, the Land of Opportunity. Arriving at Ellis Island he changed one letter in his surname to sound less guttural. Buckvald became Buckwald! He came with some means and 4 children including baby Benjamin aged 1, born to become an all-American and proud of his country. ‘God bless America’, wrote Jewish Irving Berlin.

Uneducated academically, young Benjamin, known as Buck, lived in the multi ethnic area of Brooklyn called Bensonhurst, a mixed neighbourhood of Jews and Italian immigrants at the turn of the century. The grandparents spoke Yiddish and probably never learned English. Buck grew up, married Esther and produced 3 sons, Ted being the eldest, born 85 years ago. Then the middle son Arnold and finally the youngest of the trio, Peter. The family was tightly knit with no secrets, at least not in the early days!

Young Buck was clever with his hands and fascinated by electrical components, alternating currents and high-frequency power circuits. He had been inspired by the doyen of electricity, none other than Tesla. He could repair anything and was proud of his knowledge. So many people in his neighbourhood came to him wanting their cherished radios repaired that Buck thought he would open a small shop selling new radios. He loved the Art Deco angular lines. To Buck it was sculptural art emitting sounds and thus he began his intriguing radio collection. Obviously influenced by his father’s passion for collecting and hoarding, young Teddy, as Esther called him after President Roosevelt, helped his father in the basement workshop of their large family house.

His grandfather, Joseph Samuel, had put aside some money to help finance Buck’s dream business, but where? Not Bensonhurst for sure. Buck was reaching for the stars and there was only one place which drew the crowds right on his doorstep in Brooklyn. Coney Island! Coney Island was a huge attraction in the summer months comprising of 3 distinct areas, the 5 mile beach extending from Brighton Beach, Wonder Wheel with its famous Ferris Wheel and Luna Park, an amusement park featuring the famed Cyclone roller coaster, as well as street performers and the circus sideshow. In fact between 1880 and 1945, Coney Island was the largest amusement park in the US.

Buck was far sighted and had become a collector of 100 dollar bills, putting aside a bill every week. Later in his heyday he would hoard each $100 bill every single day during the summer season! Witnessing the advent of television in New York City on July 1, 1941 , he decided to increase the size of his shop to incorporate the growing demand for TV sets. He even provided the Turner microphone for President Kennedy’s speeches to be broadcast to the patriotic crowds.

Ted was 22 by this time, having served in Korea and Germany for the US army as a trained combat photographer. In 1954 he moved to New York City, first working as a stylist for the well-known hairdresser to the stars, Mr Kenneth. Later when he got fired, he opened his own salon, taking his 300 best customers with him. He would tell his blue rinse ladies that beautiful things never grew old! Everyone adored chatterbox Ted and so his salon was a big success.

He, however, never forgot his love for Coney Island in the summer, the smell of candy floss, licking ice cream popsicles, munching roasted popcorn, riding the carousels and roller coasters. Memories of Buck’s arch-enemy Dutch Nathan with his wife Ida, famous for their sizzling hot-dogs which Ted devoured daily with sweet mustard. A meal in itself, he salivated at the memory of Nathan’s famous hot dogs.

Ted's shrewd father had moved with the times, realising that the hawkers and buskers needed microphones to draw the crowds in to the shows and thrilling rides. Buck had the monopoly and the knowledge that others did not, so other funfair owners would sub-lease technical sound equipment from him as their businesses expanded too. Money was the name of the game. Buck’s collection of undeclared $100 notes grew. He became a Scrooge hoarder, giving his wife money from time to time but was stingy and frugal. He collected the notes in bundles of 5” thick, with a $100 note at the top and the bottom, each roll sealed with special electrical masking tape to secure the bills. Over the years Ted reckoned he had squirreled away $1 million which he never spent. Always living in the same house, he had become, instead of the merchant of Venice, the merchant of Bensonhurst. Esther was not happy in her Scrooge marriage.

She knew there was cash in the house and one evening in Buck’s absence called her three sons together, instructing them to search the house for the hidden fortune. Though they searched high and low - or low but not high enough! - they gave up looking as it was not to be found. Ted’s long-suffering, frustrated mother finally left Buck and bought a guest house in the Borscht Belt. Ted would go there in his fancy Pontiac every summer, fraternising with comedians such as Jerry Lewis, Lenny Bruce and countless others who had begun their stand-up comedy acts in the Catskills. He would impress them by taking them for rides in his black coupe 1955 Pontiac, bought through the US army who shipped it back to New York. Ted already knew Vic Damone, Elliot Gould, Eddie Fisher and Larry King, as they grew up in the same neighbourhood of Bensonhurst. This of course gave him the traditional love of Jewish American humour and one-liners which was to influence Hollywood and the movie industry.

All three sons married and had families. Peter and his family moved to California and Ted often wondered how he managed to buy a big house and set up his vacuuming store, as he apparently had so little to start with. The brothers all went their separate ways. Later Esther moved to California to be close to her beloved Peter, her favourite son. The years passed, fifteen in all. Ted was not in touch much with Peter, as they had grown apart over the years with life styles and all that jazz, but he kept up his brotherly friendship with Arnold, who remained in New York. He was also in the vacuum business with four successful stores, but he had a run-in with the Mafia when he refused to pay for protection, so he too moved to California. Ted had no intention of leaving his beloved New York, and continued to make his upmarket clientele beautiful.

One night back in New York, Ted was caught with Arnold in a terrifying electrical thunderstorm in his Pontiac. Arnold was scared and, thinking they might not make it through the night, decided it was time to confess to Ted that the weasel Peter had left for California with the hidden money! He had confessed to his mother that he found it in the ceiling and had spent hours substituting the $100 bills inside each roll for $1 bills, leaving the top and bottom $100 notes so Buck would not suspect the theft. No wonder he had shrewdly invested the cash in real estate and set up a vacuum cleaning business. He told his mother in confidence which is why she had moved, colluding with her adored rogue of a son.

Poor Ted had not known about his family’s betrayal and even his trusted brother had hidden the truth from him. Arnold had eventually been told by Esther but he, like Ted, never got his share of the stash of money either. Beats me how Arnold could still love his mother and younger brother after her betrayal, let alone Peter’s dishonesty.

But Lady Luck took over. Ted somehow knew the tax law and what a ‘Walking Trust’ was. After his mother’s death from excessive smoking at the age of 72 in 1982, Buck could not access Esther’s money, which ironically unknown to him was his own money. He needed her signed death certificate as they were legally separated and Ted was the Executor of her will. It was blackmail - Ted refused to release the certificate unless he was given his share of the booty! When Buck finally relented, Ted deducted his thieving brother’s portion and divided the rest between himself and his brother.
Ted asked Buck if he had any secrets but Buck Said ‘No’, never mentioning his hidden fortune. That was his mother’s estate, but when Buck finally passed away at the grand age of 105 in 2004, Ted inherited a mere $200,000. Why so little you might ask? Buck in his senility decided to put his cash of all places in the bank because he thought it would be a safe place! What a joke as of course the bank took most of his undeclared cash for tax purposes!!

Ted however got enough to invest in a goldmine in Mali of all places. Once again Lady Luck was not on his side. He decided to fly to Mali to check out his investment and discovered the owners had not released the property from the Government, as they should have done within 6 months. Thus the company lost their right to mine and Ted lost all his money. Undeterred he remained in Africa for a further four years and saw real poverty which altered his values. He began to search for rare butterflies again and to help educate the poor with the technical knowledge he learned while working for Buck in Coney Island.
One day, after his dear brother Arnold had died from smoking like Esther eight years earlier, Ted decided to forgive Peter the weasel, after a 30 year silence. He was his only family left. Egged on by a distant cousin, he spontaneously called him in California, not mentioning the money and they resumed their brotherly friendship just like in the old days.
‘Let bygones be forgotten’, said Ted. Blood, after all is thicker than water, especially Jewish blood!

Today Ted lives frugally but blissfully, through happenstance, in a rented condo in Deerfield, Florida surrounded by his 40,000 butterflies and his butterfly art. Long live Ted who beat Buck to win back his lost bucks!

Written by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese in Casa Isabel, Getsamani and Sofitel Santa Clara, Cartagena, Colombia with help from the indefatigable Ted on WhatsApp!

Jan 2008-December 2017

0 Minute Read

It’s goodbye to the everyday

purpose slowly draining away

like the morning mugs I rinse in the sink

My Outlook suddenly feels much brighter

appointments and appraisals

recruitment and risk assessment

scheduled for binning alongside brainstorming

A final collection and card

false smiles

we will miss you so much

do keep in touch

don’t forget to leave your pass on the way out

10 years wiped clean

like my computer screen

control, alt, delete

AofA Interview: Tricia Cusden – Creator of ‘Look Fabulous Forever’

6 Minute Read

Tricia Cusden is a beauty 'vlogger' and creator of 'Look Fabulous Forever', a global cosmetics brand for the over 50s:

'At LFF we are not just a beauty brand we are a movement. A movement to celebrate mature beauty, to challenge perceptions and to embrace the benefits of ageing.' - Tricia Cusden
Advantages of Age interviewed her about her decision to provide makeup for older women based on her own 'dire experience of finding it very hard to source makeup which suited my older face'.

Can we really look fabulous forever?

Yes, we can! Looking fabulous is about caring for your appearance and staying engaged with beauty and fashion but on your own terms. It’s also about creating a confident style so that you feel good about yourself.

How does it feel to be a successful beauty vlogger in your 70s?

It feels absolutely wonderful. The best bit of my weekly blog posts is reading the comments underneath and the ‘conversation’ element that this stimulates. I also enjoy making the videos because I know how much our ‘viewers’ love them and learn from them about latest makeup techniques.

Does your makeup philosophy help mature women feel better about themselves?

Absolutely! That is the whole point of LFF. We are upbeat, positive and we celebrate the beauty in older faces. Everything we do and say and all our images are intended to say ‘you matter too!’

Do you feel you've transformed your life with the 'correct' use of makeup and is it your mission to transform the lives of other olders?

The daily transformation that makeup effects to my face, especially now I am 70, greatly enhances my confidence and ability to 'face the day.' We get a lot of feedback from our customers that their LFF makeup is helping them to feel much better about their ageing face. My mission is to confront (and hopefully change) the profound ageism of our society.

Do you feel there is a place for just wearing no makeup at all?

Of course, there is! If an older woman has no desire to wear makeup who am I to say otherwise? It's not my personal choice, but it's a free country!

Could we even consider that women wearing makeup is sexist - ie we are conforming to how men want us to look. Or are we wearing makeup to please ourselves?

This is the old feminist argument that makeup is a construct of a patriarchal system! Sorry, but I wear makeup because I like to look good to please myself. There is absolutely no way that my choice to wear makeup is influenced by the desire to please or attract a man - nor has it at any time in my life. I also feel that the pressure on older women to 'tone it down' (i.e. wear less or no makeup) is deeply ageist as self-adornment is only for the young and beautiful.

What do you think about the beauty industries current efforts to find a substitute for the words anti-ageing?

I consider it lip-service without any real evidence that the beauty industry is actually becoming less ageist. Dior has just announced that Cara Delevigne (24) as their 'face of anti-ageing.' What a joke!

What inspired you to address the way older women were using makeup and the products available?

My own dire experience of finding it very hard to source makeup which suited my older face. I also disliked the ‘anti-ageing’ rhetoric of the beauty industry. I just kept thinking ‘I could do better than this!’ and LFF was born.

Does 'mature' makeup have to promote dignity and ageing gracefully? What about individuality, originality and wanting to stand out?

There is nothing about ‘mature makeup’ which precludes individuality, originality or wanting to stand out! Making up a face (of whatever age) is a creative process - so if you want to have more dramatic eye makeup or a really vibrant lippie we’d say ‘go for it!’

Is there such a thing as 'age-appropriate' lipstick shades?

No - the main thing is to choose whether you are warm or cool toned colour. If you are warm toned you will suit colours like nude, caramel, coral and brownish pinks. If you are cool toned the best choice is for pinks, plums and cool blue reds.

Are false eyelashes out of bounds for older women?

Not necessarily as long as they are the lighter weight ones. Mary Berry sears false eyelashes on Bake-Off and looks great but they are quite natural looking.

How can we avoid the 'Bette Davis/Baby Jane' look - and do we even need to?

By applying the makeup carefully, blending well and using brushes to perfect the finished effect. No garish eye makeup, spiky eyelashes or lipstick applied over the natural lipline!

What is unique about your age-related products?

Every single one of them has been formulated to suit an older face. For instance, older skin is quite absorbent and less smooth than a younger face. This means that makeup tends to disappear fast and look less smooth. Our Face Prime, foundation, concealer, blusher and highlighter all work together and once applied will stay looking that way until bedtime.

What is the difference between younger and older makeup styles?

Most older women prefer to look naturally enhanced rather than heavily made up. For instance, there is a current fashion for heavy brow treatments on younger faces. This would look quite scary on an older face - so we suggest a more natural effect

Choose just one product you feel is ideal for older faces and explain why.

A Face Prime. Most older women don’t know how brilliant face primers are. they are applied on top of moisturiser and under foundation and are wonderful at create a lovely smooth surface and ‘holding’ the makeup in place for hours. Our Smooth Like Silk Face Prime is a top seller for us for good reason.

What do you think about plastic surgery or botox?

Personally, I'd never let anyone near my face with a needle or a scalpel. I also think that women who have work tend to look 'weird' rather than younger. But I'd also never condemn anyone for making that choice - again it's a free country!

Are you involved in the composition of your products?

Not really. That is not my area of expertise. I leave formulations to the experts and then we test the results. Once we are happy that they work in the way that we want them to work, we add the products to our range.

Do you use animal testing on your products?

No animal testing on any products or ingredients. We have Leaping Bunny accreditation.

How much time do you spend a week on this and how did you finance it?

I used £40,000 of my own savings to launch LFF and have since managed to attract investment (initially from family) as needed. Our business has never borrowed money nor does it have any debt. I work full time. Our business is open 24/7 and 365 days a year, and although I now have a great team I am still needed for various things every day and often spend time at the weekend responding to FB comments and the hundreds of comments we get on the blog which goes out at 8.00 am every Sunday. But I love it all so it doesn't feel like work.

How to Break Unhealthy Relationship Patterns and Find Love

5 Minute Read

Are you always attracted to unavailable men or women, to commitment-phobes, people living on different continents or to those already attached to someone else? Do you struggle to find emotionally healthy people attractive and run in the opposite direction as soon as a decent prospect wants to get serious?

In short, are you tired of repeating the same mistakes in your romantic relationships and getting the same results? If so, there’s no time like the present to change.

Dating for me used to be like banging my head against a brick wall. Why did I keep falling for commitment-phobes or unavailable types? Why couldn’t I fancy the good guys who were into me? And where have all the eligible men gone anyway?

I spent many a Valentine’s Day single, staying home to avoid all the red hearts or arranging a night out with my female friends. I had a good life and was content in many ways but I wanted to be in love. I thought things would never change.

But they have. I’ll be spending this Valentine’s Day with my partner, to whom I’m engaged. More importantly, I feel settled, confident I’m with the man I want to spend the rest of my days with and certain that there’s enough love between us to cope with whatever comes our way.

For an indecisive, restless soul who always thought there was someone better out there and who couldn’t stop looking over her boyfriend’s shoulder for the next guy, my newfound peace is nothing short of a miracle.

So how did I change my unhealthy relationship patterns and find love?

I first had to understand where I was going wrong. For years, I blamed the men I met for being emotionally distant or scared of commitment. What was wrong with them? Eventually, I discovered there was something wrong with me.

I was drawn to unavailable types because I was emotionally unavailable myself. I fancied commitment-phobes because I was terrified of commitment. Dating someone who wasn’t willing or able to give me love made it easy for me. It meant I could avoid getting into a true, intimate relationship with a man, and therefore avoid getting hurt, which was what I was scared of the most.

After years of personal development work and lots of therapy, I understood that my first relationship with a man, my dad, had set me up for a lifetime of self-sabotage. When my father sat my eight-year-old self on his knee and told me he was moving out of our family home, my heart cracked. The experience hurt so much that I resolved never to repeat it. I would never open my heart again. I would never get that close to a man.

I took something else away from that painful experience – the idea that I wasn’t lovable, valuable or good enough. This is what we do as children. We assume everything is our fault. We assume there’s something wrong with us.

My decision to avoid pain at all costs and that core belief that I wasn’t enough formed the basis for my future relationships. Unavailable types were safe to date. Available men who were up for commitment were dangerous so I ran away from them. And I didn’t believe I deserved love so I accepted crumbs and allowed others to treat me badly.

To change those patterns, I had to change how I related to myself.

I had to connect with the painful feelings from my childhood that I’d run away from for years or numbed with excess food (I had an eating disorder for several decades). That meant learning to slow down, sit still and allow the hurt to surface. I thought the feelings would kill me if I let myself feel them. But they didn’t. I’m still here. By feeling the pain, I could begin to heal it.

I had to learn to love, accept and respect myself wholeheartedly, to believe that I was enough and that I deserved a healthy and loving relationship with a man who could love me back.

I had to learn to trust that I could cope if I loved deeply but then lost someone again, to realise that I was a resilient adult now, not a vulnerable child.

I had to truly understand the root of my unhealthy patterns and talk about them with others who had similar experiences.

And I had to dig deep and find the courage to change those patterns.

I helped myself by building up a support network around me and by setting healthy and loving boundaries for myself whenever I went on a date. So I would try to avoid alcohol, which clouded my faculties and got me into scrapes with unavailable types. I would try to keep first dates short so I wouldn’t be tempted to end up in a man’s arms before I even knew anything about him. And I would try to move forwards at a steady pace, always alert to my history of self-sabotage, always questioning whether this relationship was good for me or whether I was repeating the same mistakes.

I say try because I messed up so many times. I am a human being after all. But every time I did, my awareness grew. Gradually, I began to date more mindfully. I began to choose who I spent time with rather than letting myself be chosen. And I began to give myself love and care so that I didn’t crave another’s love so badly. Cravings had always got me into trouble.

Awareness was the key to my transformation and I believe it’s the key for all of us. Awareness opens the door to change. By identifying and owning our patterns and by understanding why we cause ourselves pain, accept less than we deserve and run away from happiness, we can recover and heal.

That is my wish for you this Valentine’s.

AofA People: Kath Best – Singer, Songwriter, Artist

12 Minute Read

Kath Best is the sort of jazz singer who sends quivers through your body. She's also wildly eclectic. Here she answers our Q & A in the most fulsome manner so far...


Kaski (Kath Best)




Actor. I try to do what needs doing. Writing songs. Designing trumpet parts. Putting costumes together and renovating flamenco dresses. Feeding back. I like to function in collaboration. It’s a tribal thing that is easily evaded by default but essential to healthy incentivised existence. In general, left to my own devices, I do what can’t be put off to another day which is why I thrive well when deadlines and travel force an element of drive.


In the present. In space. In a cave. In the City. Under the stars in a field. Dwelling - on the past. On choices about the future. Off the state in order to be available for what’s important. Cooking with Children in Adventure Playgrounds and being there for loved ones. In rehearsal. Where ever I am in observation of myself and others. Viewing the parallel universe.


The seeds of experience begin to bloom and reflections bring a deeper self recognition. It’s a relief to arrive at any age. Change is inevitable and can’t always be accelerated to reflect youthful buoyancy. A slower pace has its merits. Frustration and expectation go hand in hand to create conflict at times but the necessity to create an illusion diminishes as this and other quirks of wisdom become nuggets of acceptance – enlightenment even. But I don’t think this comes only with age – I just have more time to notice as I am less compelled for the sake of being engaged.

As ‘bouncing back’ becomes less immediate and the need to create an identity is abandoned, I begin knowing who I am and find reassurance in that. Age is proof of life and like bread and remedies,can only be evidential in conjunction with time. One of my songs describes time as a “heavy thing – brought forward for so long…” It’s about understanding the idea that each of us ages through the process of something beyond our own life span.


I have a Son. I have time. I have grief and joy. I have an eight-hob range and a washing machine. I have silver highlights and skin that goes brown in the sun instead of pink. I have perspective relative toage - though I don’t think either relies on the other altogether.

At 25 it is easy to be caught up in things about life that occupy a space to the exclusion, or even oppression, of wisdom and truth. Money is one preoccupation that I have sometimes given up on; nice but it doesn’t rule my world and I try not to allow the lack of it to diminish my chances of survival. I had more then than now and I  was also in better position to barter my life as a sexual being – not that I was aware of that then.

Now I’ve got “Ain’t Got No – I’ve Got Life” playing in my head – and memories of Nina Simone at Ronnie Scott’s on my 25 th – or was it my 24 th ? That’s another thing I have now – flexibility around detail. Then I had an inherent desire to conform but was always driven by expressing myself artistically. Having spent my youth creating in performance and expecting to be accepted with no training and little aptitude for business into an industry just for who I was. I guess that 25 was the point when I realised that training to reach ones potential was an essential part of development. Now I have that I do have a better understanding of how discipline allows this age thing to take me into the unknown with more confidence.


It can be compelling and taboo at the same time so it’s a bit of a tightrope journey. The adventure of sex as sexual maturity unfolds, reveals in equal measure the importance of shared experience andindependence. Sexual maturity is highly regarded and really amazing but like pregnancy it is rarely talked about. Like a flower!!! It’s blooming marvellous - if you can get it right. There is a seasonal rhythm to it and the underworld of attraction runs deep. Finding the right sexual partners is not always easy.


Humans seem to morph themselves to fit in with expectations that spill into our subconscious lives from the media and social political climbs, so I’ve had to dig deeper to get a meaningful understanding about what really counts and to bring that understanding in from  others. It’s always been a bit of a hit and miss affair for me. Now that we as a society, judge the practice and culture in relationship values across the globe, I can’t help feeling that ‘we’ are still finding a new balance. Having broadly questioned the values of monogamy and accepted that choice and freedom to change are fundamental human rights, we have to re-evaluate how far along the road of finding the perfect balance we can ever be.

Driven by forces beyond their own essential value, relationships struggle to survive. For my part relationships have been muddled by expectation and growing up during a sexual revolution. I find thatrelationships that go before are carried forward. I maintain a relationship with my son's Father. It carries a cost and has it’s perks. But that relationship is not always viewed favourably by other men and, more importantly, not always been ideal for me as the visa versa kicks in. Yet, after a certain point, I’m not sure I consider this to have been a matter of choice – people bond and one becomes an article of possession on an ethereal note – for having shared experience and practical issues play their part in solidification. But the weighing up of pros and cons negates the fact of ‘what is’ being what is and ‘what’s not’, simply not existing.

Perhaps if our own feelings about relationships were separated from the relationships themselves then the latter could exist more freely for what they just are without the pressure of impending change, emotional highjack or pre-contextualised expectation. That’s my hope and the treasure of my experience. Love lost is never gone. It continues to reside as the invisible glue that holds all of life together.

I have to believe that as my legacy unfolds.


Physical and financial limitations bind us and I’m sure my perception of how others feel or might feel as a result, inform the choices I make as much, or more, than my own feelings and desires. But money buys freedom - it’s hard to join in or take off without it. I have to keep life as simple as it can be in order to feel free. Total freedom is the benchmark.

“Jump on In, Ah ripple and stream, Just to taste! Was this place, we were living in a dream, Or just a phase? Pluck Pluck Pluck it up, Be ‘eard in a wide sense, by those inner ears for a, A spell to, Break out in – BREAK OUT”. (Missing Words 2005)

I never feel completely free from my experienced self. Teetering on the precipice of engagement for fear of entrapment only to realise that I am already ensnared so doing. But the freedom creativity in art affords, seems almost infinite at times and safer - for those around me too – although the edges get blurred by the process as it merges with a less conscious and sometimes foreboding spillage of ‘ideas’.

Then integrity and choices come to challenge the real spirit of Art as it gets caught up in the confines of fashion and sex appeal and I am compelled to engineer and design a perspective for how it might be received; making it accessible or hiding it between layers of alternative interpretation. It seems that ideas are free and I capture them and cook them into something palatable. I have avoided many trappings but not all and so exposing this dichotomy seems good way to keep it transparent. I am free to do this – in art but not in relationships or other walks. In art one can be playful without risking offence.


I am proud of knowing anything that cannot be put into words. I am proud of not being proud. I am proud of being. I am proud of work that has stood the test of time and of the patience I have in not needing to understand my own work immediately or to create anything so deliberately that it stops being what it would want to be.

I am proud of hiding beneath the weight of despair and being quiet until the rise and fall of life fill the space around me from within. I am proud of baring my soul against the wind and letting go oF invention.


Nature. Doing what is required. Being a spring. Giving in to insightful ideas. Eating fresh seasonal produce that hasn’t been de-energised by the trauma of production. Circles of light. Sleep. Yoga. Boredom. The mission of collaborative creativity. The slightest thing. The enormity of space. The power of sound. The vibrancy of all things.


In transit. In the village. At the heart of a journey. Unveiling a song. Arranging parts. With my Son at home. Cooking. Passing the time endlessly with a friend. Bathing in shallow waters under the sun. Going somewhere new. Embracing change.


My creativity goes with me wherever I am but it goes beyond that too. I think it belongs everywhere. I am not always in touch. Being in action has creative potential. My song “Effect on Everyone” seems to be about destruction - it is about the creation of negativity. Where as another song “Driving”, had it’s first audience as a couple of bible bashers came through the gate just as it was finished one early morning after. The last line of the song “Praying’s just another way of saying…. Visualisation!” was the only part that visibly resonated with them and because of that the whole vibe of the song was transformed. Controversy immediately contextualised as it resonated to highlight something about their creativity - of doom.

I then realised that it had the potential for blasting through my own negativity as well. So it became a feel good rock and roll number instead of a third rate musical representation of a movie playing in my head with a hangover - not because I changed it in any way - it just gained a dynamic through its own essential communication.

Where does it go now? Do I need to know? It could be a movie or a painting or series of photographs. I guess it’s like the wind. Once it’s passed through us it’s out there and exposure can make or break it. But it can’t help reflecting in some way at some point. Not always yet.

The moment of release can be chosen or left to chance. Once exposed it is transformed as it travels on and who knows where it goes after that.


If you think of something, it is the right time to act on it. Waiting twenty minutes will separate good ideas from compulsion. If you wouldn’t eat it don’t put it on your skin and visa versa. Any boringtask should take no more than 15 minutes – if it’s still boring after that it isn’t worth it. Rhythm is the route to a free mind. Money is a means to an end. If it feels right then it is - Just get on with it. Sleep is good for you.


Dying seems natural and, as long as it is, I think it’s fine. It’s hard to accept responsibility for it. There’s no escaping it but it often feels tragic. I try to age gracefully and understand the process of death as a gradual letting go. The more you give the more transparent you become and perhaps that allows a greater connection to begin. “Ids” is a song about war and the layers of sediment left in its wake.


The art of Dreaming is one I haven’t mastered – at least I guess that can’t be true. But it’s only in the last five years I even began to dream consciously – deliberately – we are talking about waking dreams, right? But yeah! Not so much – I’m still recovering from recently shattered dreams. They seemed to affect everything. The connectivity in dreams is almost more powerful than action. Art is a great dream catcher for me as, when dreams aspire to make reality and collaborative means feel precarious, hope flounders in the dream space. “You can say I’m dreaming! Well, what is life, Without a dream? Don’t ask me how I’m feeling, Or I might lie, For now, it seems, That all my dreams, Rode in so fast. And the rose I held for you, Has come off.” Chorus from Iceberg In Bloom, 2014.


Inventing Magnesium Socks. Winning three consecutive rounds of Twizzle at Chalford Mens Night and whipping one of them several times in the lap department with a wet tea towel after a speedy mop up of the hot drink he’d spilled. Buying traffic light green mohair yarn and knitting fishnet stockings with it. Doing yoga at the Life Centre in a halter neck dress. Accepting an invitation into the fishmongers’ back room for a smoked salmon roll. That’s a few contenders – outrageous is a judgement so it might be none of these.

You decide.

Is Monogamy a Monotony?

1 Minute Read

Is a long marriage a drag? Is sex within that marriage inevitably going to become stale and insipid after a few decades? Will you get to know each other so well that nothing is ever surprising anymore? Ever a real turn on?

And more to the point did I ask myself these questions when I met the man I went on to marry when I was just eighteen years old? No, of course not. But now, years later and planning our silver wedding anniversary I find myself pondering on thirty years of monogamy (yep, I was faithful from the day we met) and what it’s meant and still means to me.

When we married I knew I only wanted him. He was the love of my life but damn, I was so young, we were so young to make the commitment of forever.

But divorce was always an option, wasn’t it?

No. I never looked at it like that, I’m not so sure about him, but he’s still here, at my side, so that says something.

Of course there have been other men over the years whose physique and personalities have harnessed my attention. And I’m pretty sure they had a twinkle in their eye for me, but I’ve never dreamed of doing anything about it. I clicked on my not interested vibe to deter them because I was happy with my guy—more than happy, he made me feel safe and secure and loved in every aspect of life.

Every aspect I hear you ask? Even in the bedroom after all that time, only him…ever?

Like well-choreographed dancers we perfected our routine over the years. I don’t think either of us really thought about only ever having sex with each other (though of course there are no crystal balls predicting the future here) but that’s the way it’s turned out. I know we said those commitment vows, forsake all others, in front of God, family and friends, and meant what we said, but the reality is… so damn real.

Several years ago, after completing a creative writing course at Cardiff University, I had a career change and became a published author of erotic romance. He loves this new side to my life much more than I expected him to. He doesn’t read much of my work, he’s more of a thriller/war/history type of bloke, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help with a bit of research when it comes to my latest novel.

We’ve always been close, in tune, (though as with any marriage our closeness has ebbed and flowed like a gentle tide depending on what else has been going on in our lives) but my new career definitely brought us together with a new intensity. In my twenties I wouldn’t have had the confidence to discuss BDSM with him in any detail (or with any knowledge), now those cards are on the table. I find myself saying and doing what I want without the inhibitions of my younger years. It swings both ways and with me being more open, so is he.

I like to think we’re still in pretty good shape (he does triathlons and I horse ride most days) and still desire each other physically. But what I couldn’t have predicted is that now, in our forties, it’s our minds that are the biggest turn on and my writing has definitely enhanced that. It doesn’t have to be mega kinky stuff that thrills us, or unpredictability, it’s unity, history and a future. It’s the confidence in knowing that whatever is said, whatever happens, will be received respectfully and with understanding. Did I mention we laugh, a lot.

My sex record would have been very different if I’d met him ten years later. I’d likely have a bedpost full of notches and a string of wild stories. As it happens, there’s just one notch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my fair share of wild stories. A few weeks ago we went past a London restaurant and he said ‘I took you there on our fourth date’. I remembered it, the food had been lovely, what I’d forgotten was what he said next, ‘you told me in the middle of the main course that you weren’t wearing knickers’. I laughed as the memory flooded back. That’s our history together and we keep on making memories.

I believe marriage is like a beautiful high-walled garden—old bricks, tumbling ivy, some manicured sections around a gentle fountain and a lawn with a bench, an ancient oak tree for shelter—and only the couple have the key to enter this garden. Within those walls what happens is secret and sacred. It’s a place for celebration and love, comfort and support. It’s also a safe environment to be vulnerable, to grow and nurture one another’s sexuality whether it’s your wedding night, or the eve of your silver, golden, ruby or diamond anniversary. Contented couples have one thing in common, and that’s the ability to never stop learning about what makes their spouse happy, whatever adventure they’re undertaking, in or out of the bedroom.

Sweeter Memories

2 Minute Read

One of the greatest pleasures of age has to do with context and perspective. And memories.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people, places and things that hold special meaning to those of us with a bit of mileage on our meters.

A simple drive can provoke memories of a special anniversary in a particular restaurant, or the wonderful summer afternoon with a then-small child in a park. An otherwise un-noteworthy book on a shelf might bring to mind the giver of the gift, and the relationship it represents. A crunchy bite into a crisp apple provides a flash back to youthful tree climbing. And those songs – the ones that suddenly appear on the radio – bring you back to a first kiss, a wedding dance or even the bittersweet longing for a love long gone.

Age can bring physical challenges and employment anxiety. It can make one feel disconnected from current culture, and can enlarge a nagging feeling of creeping invisibility.

But age can sweeten as well. A glance into a lover’s eyes can trigger an encyclopedic spin of moments that race past like a photo album dervish – embraces, apologies, laughs, private encouragements and angers forgiven. Age allows a special kind of gratitude to emerge - one that can only come from the knowledge that another has chosen to share your path for many years. Young lovers may revel in their physicality and a shared sense of purpose. But age gives longtime lovers the gift of a deep, visceral satisfaction that is bone deep.

With age comes substance. Life is infused with a kind of emotional heft. The trivial and the temporary holds little allure. And while each new sunrise may bring with it the occasional physical ache or physic regret, the dawn is an old friend that beckons us to get back out there once again and share our unique selves. Life is music, we are the instruments, and our memories are the songs we love to play again and again.

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