Ageing Well Over 50s Lifestyle

Ageing & Living Well by making positive changes

January 26, 2020
Ageing & Living Well by making positive changes

Change can be difficult and taking the first step is definitely not easy. My next guest in the Ageing Well, Living Well series, is friend and author, Toni Pike. Toni has written several books, fiction and non-fiction, however it was a health scare on a recent holiday that made her look at her life and what she needed to change.

Ageing & Living Well by making positive changes

Making Positive Changes in My Life in 2020

I’m retired, and my main hobby over the last four years has been writing thrillers. In fact, I had become somewhat of an author-holic, working long hours on my writing and probably pushing myself too hard. However, in 2019 I also had other concerns that were wearing me down.

One of my main passions over the last ten years has been travelling, and I was on a four-week trip to France, England and Germany when disaster struck. The tour of Northern France was incredible, and then we spent eleven days in northern England, visiting the Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and Durham. A strange headache had been bothering me for a few days, and was still there the night before we were due to fly to Germany for a 12-day tour.

I never made it, instead having an emergency medical episode that kept me in hospital for several days and could have killed me. I was back home in Australia a week later, and thankfully I’ve recovered well. But I totally believe that my medical problems were brought on by stress and emotional anxiety, which had also caused exhaustion from lack of sleep. On top of that, a hectic travel schedule had led to migraines and even more fatigue.

I knew that my medical problem was likely to re-occur and I wanted to do everything I could to prevent that from happening. That meant making some major improvements to my life.

Diet and Exercise

I already followed a well-balanced, healthy diet but tried to make sure I was really maintaining that every day. I also made sure that I kept up my exercise program. That is fairly moderate, consisting of a long walk every day and a series of exercises, but I find it essential for my health.


Getting enough sleep became a major priority of mine, as I saw that as a big factor in my illness. I had got into the habit of checking my iphone if I was restless during the night, so I knew that had to change and I now leave it alone for eight hours a night. It made a huge difference! I also found that I was lying awake, worrying about all my problems. I started using some deep breathing and relaxation to help me fall asleep and also made some changes to my sleeping posture. My sleep improved dramatically and I felt so much better for it.

Stress and Anxiety

Prior to my medical episode, certain things in my life had literally left me feeling traumatised. I believed that was the main cause of my illness and knew I couldn’t allow that to continue. I read that feelings of trauma originate in the body. You “feel” emotions like being upset, angry, hurt or powerless – you don’t “think” them. And you can’t heal from those feelings by thinking about them, either. Instead, the best approach is to focus on your body’s reactions to stress and anxiety, and learn how to control that.

For the first time in my life, I tried meditation and deep breathing several times a day. It had a significant effect, drastically reducing my stress levels. I now do that on a daily basis and find it enormously beneficial.


Instead of focusing on things outside my control, I also worked on my own self-validation issues. Most people are kind, honest and supportive. They truly care about others and don’t like to hurt anyone. But there is a small percentage of people who will deliberately engage in unpleasant behaviour and enjoy manipulating and upsetting others.

When someone is critical or difficult it’s easy to become emotionally derailed. Slowly but surely, your self-confidence can be chipped away.

I realised that I had allowed that to happen too often. Instead, I focused on my own opinion of myself. I realised that I should be my own best supporter, valuing and trusting myself. I also needed to be gentle and kind to myself, and to be self-reliant rather than depending on other people. These are all lessons that have taken me many decades to learn and I’m really only just starting to understand them. I’m also learning about leading an authentic life that is aligned with my personal values of honesty, loyalty, integrity, creativity, simplicity and independence.

My main lesson from 2019 was the realisation that I needed to take responsibility to change my own life. No one else was going to do that for me.

In 2020 I’m learning to be self-reliant, nurturing and supporting myself and living authentically aligned with my values.

In the next few years I see myself writing more novels, spending much more time with my grandchildren and the rest of my family, doing more travelling, going out with friends – and devoting time every day to staying fit and healthy.

Ageing & Living Well by making positive changes

Do you need or want to make some changes in your life? Join me for the Make It Happen 2020 Challenge. It’s never too late to start!

Meet Toni

Toni Pike enjoys writing exciting thrillers, travelling and spending time with family and friends, and she believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day. After starting her career as a veterinary surgeon, she later taught high school and worked in the public service. She now lives in Canberra. Toni is the author of Desolation Bluff, Dead Dry Heart, and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series. She’s also written a book of travel tips, Happy Travels 101, and a weight loss book, The One Way Diet.

All my books can be found HERE.

You can find me online here:


Instagram: @authorlovestravel  – Sharing my travel photos from around the world

Facebook: Toni Pike – Author


Twitter: @piketoni1    Toni Pike

Linkedin Toni Pike – Linkedin


Women Living Well After 50

Living Life Your Way


  • Reply Toni Pike January 26, 2020 at 07:11

    Hi Sue, Thank you so much for inviting me to write an article on positive ageing. I love your website, as you know, so it was a great honour. Toni x

  • Reply Debbie January 26, 2020 at 07:43

    Hi Sue and Toni, what a great read! I’m so pleased to hear you’ve made some changes Toni and learnt some valuable lessons along the way. It was a real pleasure meeting you recently and I love learning from others like you. Thanks Sue for sharing these gems with us. All the best for the year ahead.

  • Reply Toni Pike January 26, 2020 at 08:56

    Thank you so much, Debbie. I loved meeting you, and hope we can catch up again soon. Have a wonderful year. love, Toni

  • Reply Toni Pike January 26, 2020 at 08:58

    Thank you so much, Debbie. I loved meeting you, and hope we can catch up again soon. Have a wonderful year and keep on writing.

  • Reply suzanne January 27, 2020 at 01:33

    Hi Toni, so nice to meet you here. All too often it takes a health crisis to heighten our awareness to take action and change destructive/neglectful patterns. Kudos to you for turning things around by implementing positive lifestyle changes. Sue, thanks for sharing Toni’s message. It is one that we can all benefit from.

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 06:34

      Hi Suzanne, it’s lovely to meet you and thank you so much. I agree – often, something that seems awful can be a wake-up call for positive change. I hope you have a wonderful week. Toni

  • Reply Natalie January 27, 2020 at 08:28

    Hi Toni – very nice to meet you. How wonderful that you turned things around by making positive lifestyle changes. You have a sound health plan and when you follow through with it, the health rewards are fantastic. Thanks, Sue, for sharing Toni’s story here. #lifethisweek

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 08:41

      Hi Natalie, It’s lovely to meet you. Thank you very much – I was so pleased with the results after implementing an overall health plan for a few months, and now I’m feeling so much better. I’d recommend it to anyone. Take care, Toni

  • Reply Terri Webster Schrandt January 27, 2020 at 08:28

    Toni, I had no idea that you went through such an ordeal! Your cautionary tale provides good advice for not burning the candle at both ends, and advice I can use myself. So many “coulda-shoulda-wouldas” can vex us to the point of mental fatigue and physical illness. Glad you came out healthy on the other side. We all need positive changes! Hi Sue!

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 08:48

      Hi Terri, I didn’t want to say too much on social media, but I’m now fine and planning to stay that way. I agree with you – I now believe that we are wonderful just as we are, and all those things we want to achieve should be to add joy and enrichment to our lives. We should nurture and support ourselves. Have a fabulous 2020. Toni x

  • Reply Leanne | January 27, 2020 at 11:03

    Hi Toni – it’s a shame it takes a major message from our bodies before we stop and give ourselves some grace. I’m so glad your wake-up call wasn’t severe enough to stop you completely, but gave you the incentive to make some changes that allow you to be kinder to yourself. There are a lot of elements that I can relate to through my own journey over the last couple of years – self validation is a BIG one! Thanks for sharing your lessons with us.

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 12:20

      Thank you, Leanne, for your lovely thoughts. You’re right, it is strange that sometimes we need a big alarm to make us wake up and make some changes. I’ve also learnt so much about self-validation recently, and I think it’s perhaps the most important change of all. Wishing you all the best in your journey. Toni x

  • Reply Donna Connolly January 27, 2020 at 11:30

    HI, Toni – What a valuable lesson you have shared here — it is a great reminder to all of us. I also like your goals for 2020 and wish you much joy and success in bringing them to realizaiton.
    Hil Sue – Thank you for inviting Tony to share her story with us. She has provided a perfect fit for your theme.

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 12:23

      Hi Donna, Thank you so much and I’m pleased that you found it valuable. I was delighted when Sue asked me to write an article, as it helped clarify my thoughts about the last six months. I hope you have a wonderful year. Toni

  • Reply Vanessa January 27, 2020 at 12:48

    Sleep is a non negotiable to me. I am a miserable and frankly I can be a nasty person when I lack it. It’s really critical to my well-being. There are very few things I will give up sleep for.

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 14:44

      Hi Vanessa, I agree with you – it is so important and can lead to all sorts of health consequences if we don’t get enough of it. Toni

  • Reply Jennifer Jones January 27, 2020 at 13:25

    Hi Toni and Sue. There is such great advice here. Toni well done to you for seeing what needed to be done and doing it. Hopefully we can all take on some of your tips and avoid a health scare. Great guest pist Sue

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 14:42

      Hi Jennifer, So nice to meet you and thank you so much. I knew that it really could be a matter of life or death if it were to happen again, but I now feel so much better in every way. There really is nothing more important than our health. Toni

  • Reply Jo January 27, 2020 at 15:44

    Oh wow Toni, that’s some wake-up call. A fellow writer who also juggles a busy day job I’m reading this and nodding. Thank you, Sue, for bringing us this post.

    • Reply Toni Pike January 27, 2020 at 17:39

      Hi Jo, It certainly was a huge wake-up, but sometimes that is what’s needed to turn our lives around. I’ve learnt that by taking care of myself first, I can then approach everything else in a more balanced way. Have a great week. Toni

  • Reply Laurie January 27, 2020 at 23:41

    Hi Toni! Thanks for the article on change. I love your attitude – it is never too late to make positive changes in our lives. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Reply Toni Pike January 28, 2020 at 08:13

    Hi Laurie, You are so right. I learned almost too late the dangers of burning the candle at both ends and allowing myself to become too emotionally stressed. I’m glad you found it helpful. Toni

  • Reply Erica/Erika January 28, 2020 at 13:01

    Hi Sue and Toni, Thank you for reminding me to listen to my body and how stress plays a significant role in our health. Sleep is a huge one for me and for many women and men. I am constantly trying to find ways to improve my sleep. You also remind me of a phrase I think I have shared with Sue in the past. It was advice given to me by an almost stranger about fifteen years ago. She has since then become a good friend. “Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.” Toni, I am passing this phrase onto you.xx

    • Reply Toni Pike January 28, 2020 at 13:58

      Hi Erica, Thank you so much, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I am trying to be kind, supportive and nurturing to myself – a skill I’m only just learning about. Thank you for passing that on to me. I think stress and lack of sleep often go hand in hand, and it’s fabulous that you are taking sleep so seriously. Have a lovely week. Toni

  • Reply Denyse Whelan January 29, 2020 at 17:45

    Thank you Sue for having Toni guest post for you.
    The wake-up call was a pretty scary one for you Toni and being far away from home would have made it scarier.

    The good news you have outlined is what you are taking from this time. The fact that “we” i.e. each of us has a part to play in keeping and staying well is an age-old message but we still need to listen and learn.

    Good on you for doing so and sharing what is helping you stay well.

    Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week’s optional prompt is #ShareYourSnaps. I hope you will join in then too. Denyse.

    • Reply Toni Pike January 29, 2020 at 20:19

      Hi Denyse, Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts, and for letting me know about the prompts. I don’t regret the episode, because it was the wake-up call I needed. You’re right – we all need to think about our own health and what we can do to maintain it – or even improve it. Have a wonderful week. Toni

  • Reply sally cronin February 4, 2020 at 19:23

    It must have been very frightening Toni, especially when you were away from home. Delighted that you have found strategies that work for you… but it is a lesson to us all that we need to stop and review our lives from time to time.. Thank you Sue for hosting the post.

    • Reply Toni Pike February 5, 2020 at 11:53

      Hi Sally, It was scary, and I knew it was time to change quite a few things in my life. I’m so glad you found this article helpful. Toni x

  • Reply Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Tuesday February 4th 2020 #Lifestyle Toni Pike, #Blogging Pete Springer, #Phonesafety ACFlory, #Language Sue Vincent | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine February 5, 2020 at 03:00

    […] Head over to read the rest of Toni’s post and make a note of some of the steps you might take to make some healthy changes to your own lifestyle: Ageing, Living Well by Making Positive Changes by Toni Pike […]

  • Reply Robbie Cheadle February 6, 2020 at 04:04

    I didn’t know you had been ill, Toni. I am sorry to hear that. You do need to take care of yourself and it is easy to forget to do so when you are wrapped up in creative endevours.

  • Reply Toni Pike February 6, 2020 at 09:09

    Thank you so much, Robbie – that is lovely of you. Although I’m often tempted to, I don’t like to put private stuff on social media. I’m certainly trying now to take care of myself – and also do some writing. I know you’ve been very busy, as always. Have a fabulous week. Toni x

  • Reply Elizabeth Gauffreau February 6, 2020 at 09:47

    Very sound advice. I have reached the age where indiscriminately revving the stress engine does lasting damage.

    • Reply Toni Pike February 6, 2020 at 10:58

      Hi Elizabeth, Nice to meet you. That is so true – it’s great to be busy and active, but we also need plenty of time for self care. Toni x

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