Health + wellbeing

The hardest Flying Solo article I’ve written

- February 4, 2019 5 MIN READ

In 2014 I was the Acting Editor of Flying Solo during a maternity leave position. The editor who took my place was the dazzling, bright, smart, gorgeous, Kelly Exeter. Kel poured her heart into the role for two years before leaving to focus on other areas of her business.

Recently I read in a Flying Solo newsletter that Kel had lost her husband and soulmate, Anthony, after they’d both been in a car accident.

I was devastated.

I felt an enormous amount of sadness for Kel.

I kept thinking of her sparkling smile.

Her warm spirit.

Her positive glow.

And how her world had just turned upside down.

I kept thinking of the pain and suffering she was experiencing.

My heart ached for her and her children, and still does.

As someone who edits articles, I’m going to be upfront and say this isn’t a well-constructed article. It has no real set goal, and I’m just allowing my thoughts to flow. I’d actually already submitted my Flying Solo article for January, but requested that this one take its place because I couldn’t imagine starting the year without acknowledging what had happened to Kel, in some small way.

Kel is a master at storytelling.

She skilfully shares her life, feelings, wisdom and observations in her everyday writing.

No doubt in the future, near or far, she will have some raw, profound words to describe her current journey.

For now, I’m going to take a leaf out of Kel’s book, and share something of myself with you.

I’m a fairly private person, and in my own articles I tend to focus mainly on business musings. Today, I’m going to share a simple story. It’s not profound, but in a roundabout way it ties in with the uncertainty of life, and the preciousness of each day.

The story

Every New Year’s Eve, my partner and I have a tradition where we go out to dinner and share our goals for the upcoming year while also reminiscing about the year that’s nearly gone. We relive the highs and we debrief about the lows.

However, last year we decided to do something a bit different.

Rather than discussing the goals we’d like to achieve for the year ahead, we decided we’d come up with a list of feelings/actions/activities that we wanted to experience every single day of 2019.

Our thinking was:

Life is uncertain, what if tomorrow never comes? Wouldn’t it be great to experience our most valued events and enjoyments every day?

As a bit of background, during the year I had lost my best friend of 39 years. She found out she had cancer, and two weeks later she died. Four months prior to her death; our beloved, adored German Shepherd named Sammy died at just six years old after a short, untreatable illness. Both incidents brought home the cruel finiteness and uncertainty of life. Both highlighted the false lull of a guaranteed tomorrow.

An acronym

We decided the easiest way to collate, remember and reinforce our list of important things was to create an acronym that we could quickly say each morning, keeping the important stuff in the top (or at least at the back) of our minds all day.

We both created our acronyms and shared them on New Year’s Eve.

Today, I’m going to share mine with you.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it is super private and personal to me. Only my partner and son know it, but I’d like to share it with you today, even though I feel like I’m conducting open heart surgery on myself.

My acronym is: FFFF-WAM.

Catchy? No.

Easy for me to remember? Yes.

It stands for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fitness
  • Food
  • Writing
  • Abode
  • Minimalism

Let me explain.

Family and friends

Currently I’m happy with the amount of time I spend with the people most important to me. For now, the words “family” and “friends” remind me to stay present while interacting with said family and friends.

Specifically, it’s amazing how much I allow my mind to wander (especially to my to-do list!) when chatting to my partner and son. I talk to them all the time so I take their conversations for granted. I’m trying to stay more in the moment with them, to really listen. On busy days though this is a struggle. I need to do a lot better in this area.


I love exercise, but sometimes when I’m busy I forgo whatever daily fitness routine I’d planned. The word “fitness” reminds me to try and enjoy some form of exercise every single day, no matter how busy I am.


This word means many different things.

“Food” mainly refers to my love of all animals, and my continued desire to preserve their lives by not eating them. (I need to say upfront here, please, eat what you want, and enjoy it – no judgements from me. This article is about my personal journey, not about judging anyone else. :-))

To ease my conscience, I always told myself that animals didn’t suffer prior to being on my plate, even though deep down I knew this couldn’t be true. A few years ago my partner and I decided to find out more, and we were horrified by the cruelty and suffering. We immediately moved to a vegan diet.

It’s been three years, and interestingly, at 46, I am now fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been in my entire life. The people at my gym must think I’m WEIRD! Some days I do handstands against the wall, skip on a bosu ball, and literally do cartwheels around the outdoor area. So “food” is also an umbrella word to remind me to stay as healthy as possible every single day, and that my age is just a number not a limiter.

“Food” is also a reminder for me to give back whenever possible, because a lot of my charity donations go to animal welfare organisations.


Writing is as important to me as breathing. I have written regularly since I was around five years old. Thankfully I don’t need to remind myself to write every day, given I’m a copywriter!


Lately we’ve been focusing on fixing things around the house. Many of these tasks had been put in the “too-much-of-a-hassle” basket, but this year we’re trying to empty the basket. I am writing this article in a freshly painted home office, and I feel uplifted. “Abode” is a reminder to stick to the to-do list.


Minimalism is the act of living with less, and without excess. For us, it’s not just about decluttering, it’s about methodical and consistent culling.

Minimalism isn’t for everyone, but it’s very much a part of our household and lives. We do still own many items and value several possessions, but we only own what we use/need, and we only hold on to what is absolutely dear to us. “Stuff” makes us feel heavy and overwhelmed, minimalism makes us feel light and free. But when life gets busy, it’s easy to accumulate or allow clutter to creep in, so this is a daily reminder to stay on top of it.


I have no idea how to end this article, so I’m just going to say, I hope your year is special and is filled with the activities and people you truly love. I hope you remember, daily, that your presence in this world is precious to the people who care about you, so please look after yourself as much as possible.

If it has been a difficult start to the year (as it has for several people), my heart goes out to you, and I hope that time will help to ease any pain, discomfort and stress.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"