Archive for the ‘Downshifting’ Category

A benefit of a simple life

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

One of the benefits of living a simple life can be working for yourself.  I consider ourselves very lucky as we have a few different ways to earn a crust and we manage our time ourselves working from home.  That means that when something enjoyable crops up we can rearrange our work to make the most of it.

Today has been a glorious day –  warn sunshine and blue skies – we had a friend call us to see if she could pop in and visit  – a friend who we have not seen for 10 years.  We were able to sit out in the garden and have our lunch and were still sitting there at 4pm catching up on all her news and reminiscing over old times.

We could never have done that in the old days when we worked 75 hours a week and commuted 4 hours a day.  Working for what you need rather than always for what you want allows you to change the balance – we now work to live rather than live to work.

Today has been lovely and it is what our new simpler life is all about.  Putting friends and family first, eating simple home cooked food – home baked bread, salad, cheeses – (a lovely brie we smoked on a Smoky Jo’s course on Tuesday) and a glass of home made elderflower cordial and relaxing in the garden.  Absolute perfection on a summers day and we didn’t have to wait until the weekend to enjoy it!

Lovely to see you Jackie – come again soon.

How to measure life…

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take – but the moments that take our breath away…

Stepping Off

Camping, Dentdale and poetry…

Monday, August 16th, 2010

We have just had a couple of days away camping and climbed Flinter Gill above the village of Dent in the Yorkshire Dales.

The view from Flinter Gill with toposcope

The view from Flinter Gill with toposcope

At the top is a Toposcope(!) pointing to the various peaks and fells that may be seen but also bearing a poem – “Smiling Along” by Kathleen Partridge.  The poem says so much that we believe in at Stepping Off, about getting away from the frenetic 21st century pace of life… and I thought I would be able to find it on the internet, but no! So I only have the middle verse which I can read from a photo…

“A good wholesome breeze sweeps the frown from my forehead,
Here is simplicity, fragrant and free;
It is enough to be living this minute,
To feel and to hear, to think and to see”

Kathleen Partridge Poem Smiling Along

Kathleen Partridge Poem Smiling Along

If anyone knows the poem, please let me know, or I will have to climb Flinter Gill again!

Thanks to Julia Hall who found a picture of the whole toposcope on the web… here is the poem in full:

“Roaming the byways outside the great city
The sky seems to large for my little concerns
Worries are lost in the green of the landscape
A sense of wellbeing and wonder returns

“A good wholesome breeze sweeps the frown from my forehead,
Here is simplicity, fragrant and free;
It is enough to be living this minute,
To feel and to hear, to think and to see

“My values of living take on a fresh aspect,
With every green leaf that I notice unfurled,
Roaming the byways is good as a tonic,
I come home renewed to the work a day world”

Recycling, Freegle, Freecycle and new friends!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

We have been enthusiastic users of our local Freegle Group for a couple of years (previously Freecycle).  For the uninitiated it is a way of reducing landfill, giving old stuff new homes and getting free things.  It works on so many levels..!

We first used it to offer  old laminate flooring and underlay when we replaced our kitchen floor – most of it was perfectly usable at was found grateful homes as insulation and flooring for a shed.  This weekend an old beanbag chair was collected by a family who happen to be running a business at our old place of work.  Brougham Hall, where we ran the Old Smokehouse, has a number of small units including the Crafty Monkeys Pottery Studio.  Tim and Michelle ran their ceramics for a while at Wetheriggs Pottery, further south of Penrith but are now up and running at Brougham Hall – a tumble-down stately home under renovation – where children are particularly welcome to create their own masterpieces from clay – “paint a pot, throw a pot!”

Getting the priorities right

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

One of the most valuable things we help people with at Stepping Off is getting their life into perspective and sorting out what is really important in life.

Sadly my Mother died last month and it has been quite a tough few weeks but what has really helped is that for the past few years we have lived near her and been able to see her and spend time with her.  I cannot imagine how I would have managed if I had still been living 300 miles away, putting work first and working 12 hours a day.

Getting off the treadmill and moving to live a simpler less stressful life was the best thing I have ever done and it really helped me get life into prespective.

The hardest part is working through what your own life’s priorities really are.  I guess we do not think about it too much – mainly because we are too busy ‘living’ and getting on with life.   When did you last ask yourself – ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I stand for?’ ‘What do I want from my life?’, ‘What does success really mean to me?’

Now I find I may not have  as much money as I used to have but I do have a  more fulfilling life, I have more fun and more time for the important things.  Things like – having time for friends and family.

Downshift to Sri Lanka…?

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Just before the Vitality Show we got back from the most wonderful trip to Sri Lanka, land of Jo’s (and her Mother’s) birth!  She’d not been back since she was eight, I have no idea why – it is an amazing country.

Curiously we have been slightly unsettled… we upped sticks leaving jobs and home in the south ten years ago… are we ready for a move abroad..?  I think we need a Stepping Off course to check on our priorities, values, aspirations and limiting beliefs and then to plan the next steps!

Like most visitors to Sri Lanka we had a chauffeur/guide for the first part of the holiday.  His name was Jally – Hafiz Jaleel, and he absolutely made our holiday!  I promised I would link to his website so I hope you will forgive a little plug for him  He used to work for Kuoni, but  “Stepped Off” and went solo last year.  He has a good fan base on Tripadvisor – but links aren’t allowed.  He helped with all Jo’s strange requests tracing her roots – searching out  old family home and church and her Father’s office at the old brewery.  Her Father and Grandfather ran the Ceylon Brewery between them from the 1920’s to the the 1960’s and it was her Father who started brewing Lion Lager (and Lion stout)  which is still going strong today.  We raised many a glass to her old man as we negotiated the hills, beaches, kitchens and other wonders of  Sri Lanka.  Who would have thought that an island the size of Ireland would have seven – yes, SEVEN World Heritage Sites?

If you are thinking of a trip to Sri Lanka – and why wouldn’t you? – we would be delighted to talk to anyone considering asking Jally to accompany them.  We cannot recommend him too highly; but being one of the best he can get booked up months in advance – just make sure he is available before you book your flights!

May be we will see you there, running a cinnamon farm or a guest house… or downshifting courses…

The Vitality Show

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Stepping Off will be at the Vitality Show this year being held at Earls Court in London on 18-21 March.

Why I hear you ask?

Well because there was a fantastic show called the One Life Live show held at Olympia every year – and it is all about life change, career change, adult gap-years,volunteering etc.  Well this year it has been incorporated in the Vitality Show. So it will be twice as good!

So come and see us – we are in the One Life section by the theatre.

Also I will be speaking in the theatre on “Finding a Future that Fits” which will be a motivational talk outlining  some useful hints and tips to help you design the best future possible.

Come and listen on Thursday evening at 8pm, Saturday at 1.30pm and Sunday at 1.30pm. 

If you want to know more about the things I speak on have a look at Jo Hampson

See you there!

Make this YOUR year!

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Our motto at Stepping Off this year is to “put procrastination in the past”!

How many times have you been here before – it is a new year – we are thinking of new year’s resolutions, we are all keyed up and motivated – this year is going to be different!

But is it?

Being keyed up and motivated is only half the story – the other half is understanding why you have been here so many times before and have never really achieved all you set out to achieve.

Identifying the things in our lives  that stop us from moving forwards and achieving our goals is vital if we are to live our lives differently.

So why not spend some time thinking about  –

1.  What are the things that are stopping us moving forward and living a happier life?   

2. Who are the people who are stopping us changing? – Have you ever thought that some friends and family members may have their own reasons for wanting you to stay where you are?

There are lots of reasons that keep us where we are – our own comfort zone for one.   But if you can name some of these reasons, think them through and then answer this question:  Are they real, are they imagined or are they just an excuse?  When you have made sense of them you can then dismiss them from your mind. 

Don’t let them stop you becoming the person you long to be, living the life you long to live!

Procrastination may well be one of these reasons. So make this the year you put procrastination in the past and make this YOUR year for change!

What stops you from changing your life?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

We are all brilliant at sabotaging our own ability to change.  We just hate getting out of our comfort zone – even if that comfort zone is not particularly comfortable!

Why does it happen and how can we change it?

Well –  have a read of one of our columns written for Carlisle Living and see if it helps you start to change your life…..


Yeah but, No but, Yeah but, No but…

Why do we stop ourselves from doing the things we want to do?  Long before Little Britain used their “yeah but, no but” line we were talking about “yeah buts” – those words in our heads saying “yeah but… there’s no point applying for that job, I’ll never get it.”  “Yeah but… Australia’s ever such a long way…”  “yeah but… if I do buy that amazing outfit will I look good in it..?” 

A ‘yeah but’ is that doubt in your mind when you are thinking about doing something differently – from changing the way you look to changing your job, leaving your partner to  leaving the country. It nags away at you, whispering – “yeah, but are you sure you can do it?”  “Yeah, but what happens if it all goes wrong?”  “Yeah, but what will people think if I fail?” These thoughts nibble away at your self esteem and sap your confidence until eventually you convince yourself that it is all too risky, too difficult and you may walk away without doing something that would have been terrific. 

We are frequently surrounded by “yeah but” people.  Friends and family may be all too happy to talk us out of doing anything different.  You may recognise their words; “Yeah, but why would you want to do that?”  “Oh, but it’s a harsh world out there” they say.  “Will you be able to do it?”  “No, but you are better off staying where you are” and on they go…  They will have their own reasons for wanting you to stay the same… Yeah, but they may be preventing you from choosing the best path for you. 

So when you hear that little voice of doubt in your head, or you hear people doubting your ability to do something differently – whether a hairstyle or a lifestyle – listen and decide whether it’s a valid reason or a “yeah but”.   If it is a “yeah but”, recognise it for what it is, dismiss it and get on with the adventure of life!

Back to Stepping Off website

You don't have to downshift to change your life!

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Do you ever feel as though life is passing you by and that you might not be making the most of it? 

I think lots of us feel this and start thinking that we should give it all up and do something new and different.  But you don’t have to make huge changes to start to live differently.  You just have to think about what is really important to you , what your priorities are and then focus your life around those things.

When you do this you will find that some of the ‘stuff’ that we are always busy doing becomes less important and we find that we find more time for doing those things that are important to us.

Life becomes more fun, we feel less stressed  and we feel as though we are living more.

So think about what you could do differently to change your life and make it more meaningful.  It doesn’t have to be anything huge – just start with something small.  Maybe coming home half an hour earlier one day a week and planning a nice evening or deciding to give yourself an hour at the weekend to curl up and read a book or just to have time to yourself.

Yes of course there are always lots of things to do – but start to make some time for yourself. 

Remember – you just have to change a small thing for much bigger things to start changing.  Go on – your deserve it!