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How I Became a Midlife Stress Buster

4 Minute Read

‘Tell me what you do in just one word?’ After 12 years in the business, it still didn’t slip off my tongue. How was it possible to sum up midlife and all its issues, in just one word? I went for a very long walk.

My love of personal development coaching had always been part of me. At junior school, I received the ‘Concientiousness Towards Others’ award two years running. I knew helping others, listening to their needs, was a huge part of me, yet as I reached my 40s, this potential had not been truly realised.

One day, sitting with my toes dangling in our private pool, and I could see into the next 20 years. Very clearly. It was not a place I wished to be. I had everything, a loving husband, a luxury lifestyle in the Mediterranean, a six bedroomed home, two wonderful boys soon to fly the nest, and my own hormones creating havoc. I wasn’t happy. None of my peers seemed to be happy either. What was it about the peri-menopause, modern day living and me? There had to be more to life.

I found inspiration in a magazine. I realized that I could take my social science degree, add to it life coaching and begin a new career. This life change has led to a glorious 15 years of exploration and connection to myself and what matters to me the most - helping others. With it comes those all-important, life-changing light bulb and goose-pimple moments. I usually know when I’ve hit the spot because my skin begins to have those telling sensations before my client has fully explained what is happening to them.

My clients tend to be midlife women, coming through peri-menopause into menopause and beyond. Often they are dealing with life issues such as divorce, loss of a loved one, empty nests, boomerang kids, ageing parents, financial worries, ill health and their own looming mortality. It can be a tough place to be. Each and everyone one of us will cope with it differently and yet we all share something in common - a problem shared is a problem halved.

Listening to another person can be draining and rewarding at the same time. Often things will come up in this conversation that apply to your own circumstances. However, keeping your own ‘story’ out of the way is key to the results. As I honed my skills throughout the years, I noticed one theme came up again and again - the need to put oneself first, to be Sensibly Selfish. Wear the oxygen mask before helping others, something many women fail to do. (Myself included at times).

Yet it wasn’t until 2015, when my own life took a dramatic turn that I saw new results in my business. My husband was offered a job working in East Africa. A contract to build a 5* hotel. We couldn’t refuse. Within the space of a month, I had put our Spanish finca for sale, decluttered 20 years worth of possessions, told our two grown kids to fend for themselves, and arrived in Zanzibar with 20 kg of luggage. My new home had just two rooms and a red tin roof, yet it was perfect in every way and very close to the most beautiful beach and azure sea.

Walking daily on the pure white sand, connecting to nature, living a simple natural life, with healthy food and exercise made me realize where my own personal life-disconnections had been. I had been stuck in the rat race, believing that possessions make you content and that striving to consume was good despite the constant feelings of disharmony I was feeling as the havoc of such a lifestyle created on the planet and myself internally.

I discovered that there is no need to live in turmoil. By simplifying my thoughts and my possessions, I had plenty of literal and metaphorical space to connect to self without causing harm to Mother Earth. It is this simple peaceful space that I offer clients in order that they can also find clarity. I help them look at their lives in a holistic manner and find their own sustainable success.

So what is my one word? Stress-Buster.

Actually, it finally ended up as four words ‘The Midlife Stress Buster’ yet my coach accepted it! Stress has had a bad rap over the years, in fact it does have a good side. Often we cannot avoid the actual midlife stressors but we can choose to cope with them differently. Sometimes we just need support to see things differently. Supporting others to find a way with their midlife tensions is what gets me jumping enthusiastically out of bed every morning.

You can find Kay Stress Busting here:

My Son and I as Writing Partners

8 Minute Read

'Write a book with your son! Are you mad?’, was the common reaction of friends and also my parents, when I told them this was what I intended. My younger son Cato, (then in his 20s), and I had signed up with a publisher to write his first-person account of creating an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Alongside this there would be ideas, information, and case studies to inspire others. Though in truth I had not thought through what the reality might be, or the emotional implications.

His dad Olly and I had certainly been through the usual upheavals, stand-offs and misunderstandings through Cato's years of growing up. But by the time he completed his biology degree and MSc in science communication, he and I had evolved an easy-going, caring relationship, and when we did hit heads-on over something we both reached for emotional intelligence tools and worked it out.

He also seemed set fair for a science career and Olly and I sighed with relief that he was likely to be well employed. We had not reckoned with our son going on an extended visit to Spain to do a TEFL course during a holiday break, and falling in love with a beautiful Sevillian woman. We grew very fond of the spirited Carolina when she came to stay and hoped she might come over to be with Cato, but no. Her teaching job comes with civil service privileges and a pension. She declared love for our son but she was not about to give up a hugely coveted job. A sound feminist she argued that she and Cato could split and she would have lost her livelihood.

So Cato decided he would up-sticks and move to Spain. Which meant abandoning his science career, with nothing obvious to replace it. Until he announced his intention to become an entrepreneur, and follow an ambition to compose music which had always been there, though put aside as science was so obviously more sensible. He was also experienced at making websites and began picking up work to take to Spain.

I won’t pretend his dad and I were overjoyed. We saw a load of pitfalls, and throwing up all for love was rather overblown romanticism wasn’t it? Oh yes, we panicked and sat Cato down, asking how realistic this radical 'jumping ship' really was. Nor was there much chance of a decent job in Spain, a country struggling with unemployment. But he was adamant he could create an entrepreneurial lifestyle, and that frankly this might be best as he was distinctly ill-fitted to structured office life. So it wasn’t a case of his dad and I instantly patting him on the back and saying ‘go forth young man’, and we upped our evening wine-consumption for the first anxious weeks after Cato had left home.

But in truth I did understand. I had pursued a way of life, in my youth, following dreams rather than common sense, very often. Like taking a job on an unreliable contract with a distinctly shifty bunch running a news agency because I thought the owners looked like the kind of journos you found in entertainment like 'Deadline Midnight'. Giving up a solid job as a court reporter to do so. Or turning down the offer of a newsroom contract with the BBC when the offer of a job in Amsterdam came up, that sounded much more fun if less of a sound career move.

Fast forward seven years and Cato was settled in Seville with his girlfriend - now wife - and had built a successful life as an entrepreneur with three enterprises - scoring films and selling albums of the music he writes, constructing websites, and recording voiceovers for a huge range of clients. Having several income streams is the key to making this way of life succeed, he says, so if one ‘earning stream’ goes quiet the others, hopefully, will keep going. It is a modus operandi that works for Cato and he earns more in a year than I have ever done. He has developed a sharp business edge and shapes his substantial work hours around spending quality time with his wife Carolina and he is the happiest we have seen him. He is inclined to quote Milton Berle: ‘If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.’

On one of the fairly frequent work visits he made to London, we were discussing the direction he had taken his working life one day, and I asked if it had been the right thing to do. (With an uneasy feeling he had probably lost the chance of the career he had before, should he want it again). But no. Cato gave me the biggest smile and said hard work and insecure it might be, but he earned enough, had infinite variety and was in charge of who he worked for and what he did. No less important he could design the shape of his working life to spend a rewarding amount of time with his wife - and now there is a baby daughter too - and if it meant working into the night to compensate sometimes, so be it. 'I am,' he informed me very firmly, '...a Lifestyle Entrepreneur.' Suddenly Cato’s way not only made sense but struck me as being very much a way of working for the future. A millennial‘s way to take charge of working life, at a time when there seemed less and less chance of that within traditional work.

Which is how I came to set about writing a book with Cato on how to be a lifestyle entrepreneur. Our enthusiastic publisher produced a contract which we signed, without pausing to think what it would mean to operate as co-authors. Not mother and son, with all the learned behaviour that relationship brings ie the hierarchy where I was the one whose life experience gave me (I assumed) the superiority I had through his growing years - right down to jokingly referring to myself as Mother Superior.

The first intimation that we would not be harmonious co-authors came with a meeting in the office and recording studio Cato has in the family home. I arrived with a box file overflowing documents, print-offs from the computer, article cuttings relating to the do-it-yourself way of earning and living, which I thought we could pore over, discussing and highlighting interesting bits. Cato looked horrified, recognising in that moment how very different our approaches would be. He summoned me to his computer and showed me a mind map he had constructed with our thesis as the centre point and coming off this a series of arms labelled with ideas for themes and chapters. There was clearly an implicit criticism. My Boy did not get that I find scribbled bits of paper piled around me, along with pens, books and post-its, stimulates creative thinking.

Cato has always been known as an easy going chap and he and I have had a largely laid-back relationship. But all that fell apart as we hit tensions, a couple of explosive rows and the panicky feeling that we might not get the book done. His voice became less than affectionate when I failed to grasp the technological stuff that is vital in the digital age, or understand it when he wrote about... SEO, landing pages, liquid layout, nesting. He was angry in a way I thought only parents were permitted to be to their young, when I screwed up on Dropbox and managed to wreck a document he had posted. A new one appeared marked ANGIE DO NOT TOUCH.

As I have spent long years interviewing people as a journalist I did a series of case studies, talking to people working as entrepreneurs in very different ways. Tensions ran higher as we struggled to get Cato’s voice, which is the essence of the book, correct. I found his writing too formal, he found my interventions a bit slick. We started off writing the first chapter together, then editing each others’

versions. A couple of fiery rows erupted (and Cato, an Aries, is stubborn by nature). There were a few 'locked horns' moments, but we worked out a system. Cato worked on the practical information - building online communities and markets, ways to get funding, the psychological issues you may encounter. And as Cato and I got into our stride something lovely happened. Our relationship really did move from the hierarchy of mother and son, into a co-operative partnership.

I now see that when Cato jumped ship from his employed job he had actually picked up the zeitgeist. Being a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, using your initiative to set up an enterprise based on your own interests, shaping work and family life as you choose, and being in charge of work decisions, is something an ever-increasing number of people are looking towards, at a time when the conventional workplace becomes ever less hospitable.

We delivered our manuscript as co-authors with an extra layer of emotional good stuff added to our relationship. And as I write this Olly and I are visiting Cato, Carolina and their baby daughter. Once he has finished the tune he is composing in the recording studio he has set up in his Spanish home, we will all go out for tapas. And never mind that just about everyone else will be back in their offices.

(Gibson Square) by Cato Hoeben and Angela Neustatter.

The authors will launch a website on being an entrepreneur later in the year. Anyone interested in receiving this please contact

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!

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