Archive for the ‘Having fun’ Category

Stepping On…

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

… This site has been a little quiet for a while as we have seized another unexpected opportunity… part of the community of Shap has long been the fish and chip shop but last September it was closed down.
We stepped up for the challenge! Shap Chippy
Unfortunately this leaves us little time for Stepping Off but we are delighted to still be in touch with so many friends who have Stepped Off over the years.
We are happy to help with enquiries if we can!

A Stepping Off weekend rounding off a good year and kick starting a great one

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

“A huge thank you to you both for such an inspiring weekend and for your great hospitality! I can honestly say that I can’t think of a better way to round off what has been one of the best years for me for a long time and now I am  going into next year with exciting plans for living the rest of my life”

So begins a recent email from Rachel a Stepping Off client. We have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people over the years, individuals and couple who for one reason or another want to reassess their life’s journey.  Some have had a change forced upon them – by redundancy, bereavement or divorce. But for many people there just comes a point at which they want to be sure what they are doing is right. Right for them, right for their dreams and aspirations and right for their life. Often this comes when there is a mismatch between their own values and those of a profit-driven or target-driven organisation, or when work has become the number one priority – when it shouldn’t be!

Rachel took the advice from a previous Stepping Off guest and took a few days off after her weekend with us.  Her email continues:

“ I carried my Stepping Off report and goal sheets with me and sat and read them sitting on rocks by the sea and on top of a hill so have truly anchored the excitement and self belief that we explored last weekend!”

“I have stopped myself from looking at my work e-mails until I go into the office in the morning and although I found myself thinking I should forego swimming in the morning so I can get into the office for 8.00 am to catch up on all my e-mails, I have thought better of it and am going swimming, because nobody will thank me for giving up a bit more of my life for the sake of work, least of all me!! I am going back to work with a very different perspective than when I left it and with determination to keep priorities working for me.

I will definitely keep in touch and let you know how my world changes. Huge thanks again!”

I have had another email from Rachel since… she has joined a choir, booked time with her Godson, been to a show and been short-listed for a job more in keeping with her values.  Next month she is is moving into an idyllic cottage… We don’t work the miracles, but maybe we light the blue touchpaper! As Rachel says “….you really have something very unique going with the weekends!”

Although we started Stepping Off weekemds before we haad even heard of life-coaches, now when people ask us about what we do we describe it as Intensive Care Life Coaching – instead of a session of an hour or so and then back into the commute, walking the dog, work and chores we have found that a weekend away to really explore what you want your life to be all about can build a solid foundation on which to build the next chapters… if you think we may be able to help you please get in touch and we will arrange for a no-obligation chat. info@teppingoff.co.uk 01931 716638.

Do you miss doing something you used to do? Do it again!

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Well, firstly thank you to those who tuned in to Radio 5 live – unfortunately the presenter forgot to mention that it was National Downshifting Week! Ah well.

On the Stepping Off programme an awful lot of ground is covered.  Many people feel their careers have been a fall-back position; they went to secreterial college as something to fall back on when actually they wanted to to be a photographer.  They may have the most incredible (and enjoyavble)  career as a PA – but it feels like a fall back position. 

Many hobbies and leisure pursuits are given up when we leave school or college… BUT YOU CAN PICK THEM UP AGAIN!! 

Violin, with the cobwebs dusted off!

Violin, with the cobwebs dusted off!

“Leaving the house with a violin case in my hand took me back nearly 30 years. It was as comfortable an extension of myself as my hockey stick and tennis racket were then; as my laptop and car keys are now.

Two and half hours later I got home having played one or two notes in the right place at the right time during Beethoven’s symphony number 4 and broken my violin. But I had got a taste back for being a part of a wonderful sound. I knew that I wanted to be able to do it again. Mercifully the Cobwebs orchestra seem full of generous musical souls. 

I had also realised that when I was young and played music (and sport!) all the time how agile my brain must have been – and how sluggish it has become. Thirty years on I could still read music, I still knew more or less what my fingers should do for each note – I was struggling to trying to count in time, or at least be able to see and register the movement of the conductor. I needed to hear in my head how the music should sound. Then I needed to make a sound that at the very least least didn’t clash. 

I struggled to distinguish the different strands of music and melody. Deciphering the score was a challenge – not least because of my eyesight – the high notes way of the stave had become a mystery to me. Sitting next to me was a valiant musician who managed to keep going in spite of the occasional tuneless, embarrassed scrapings coming from me. I think she knew I wouldn’t be that much help as I muttered “what a lot of notes!” each time I turned the page. Respite for her wasn’t far away – my violin was getting flatter and flatter and I realised the gut holding the tail-piece in position was slipping. Blessed with an excuse for wrong notes I thought it best to sit in silence. And turn the page. I was good at that. 

The saddest thing was after the impossible Beethoven it was Elgar, two Enigma variations. Including Nimrod. Fewer notes and further apart! I could have played quite a lot of it, I think. If there was only one reason to keep me going back it would be to play a small part in evoking the feelings Nimrod has always inspired in me. Thank you Mother.”

I’ve fixed my violin and been three times now… I can’t wait to be better, so I’d better practice!  It’s all about committing a chunk of time to doing something you want to do for yourself – and we sometimes get out of the habit.

Downshifted, working, and doing what we want to do…

Friday, March 25th, 2011

… do you cancel meetings with friends because you’re too busy, then wish you hadn’t? We had a happy reminder of one of the reasons for downshifting yesterday when we were able to meet up with a dear friend at short notice. The weather played its part and we had a great walk above Windermere… and a picnic… and tea and cake afterwards.
Georgina has also made time (and found the confidence!) to take her violin to a local  orchestra. The first time she has done that since she was a teenager… more practice required, I understand…  So many Stepping Off clients talk wistfully about the things they have enjoyed in the past.  If you make a committment to yourself to pick up old, happy habits, it can make a world of difference!

Personal diversification…

Monday, March 7th, 2011

We coined the phrase “Personal Diversification” as we recognised that our lives, having “stepped off” the treadmill were incredibly varied.  We moved to Cumbria in 2001 – the year the county and so many farmers and small businesses were affected by the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.  Some funding came into Cumbria for farm diversification projects – many converted barns to holiday accommodation, others opened farm shops and tea rooms.  While our lives after selling the Smokehouse did not have main purpose as farmers do – we have certainly diversified! 

Much of the work we do with clients is when people feel they have lost control of where they are going – that is a common reason for wanting to step off or to downshift.  To a certain extent we have diversified without a clear plan – but because we HAD taken back control of our destiny we were better placed – mentally and emotionally – to take advantage of opportunities that have come our way, as well as to say “no” to others.  Smoky Jo’s has taken on a life of its own – we have had some fabulous publicity about the food smoking courses we run – and we now run them at a local hotel, The Wild Boar Inn,  where not only do they do the washing up but the smoked food is served for the evening meal for our guests and us!   We write a column for a local magazine, we are  volunteer business mentors and Jo co-ordinates the Cumbria-wide scheme.  I do a bit of web design and book-keeping – skills I have learnt as I have needed them.  Most of all we are able to choose our hours… if the day is beautiful, we are out there enjoying the splendour of Cumbria – or at least gardening! If you had told us in 2001 what life would hold for us in ten years time we could not have begun to imagine what we now have.  Our personal diversification gives us about nine income streams – none of them very big – and a priceless personal freedom.

This morning Jo set off early to fly to the Isle of Man to work as a professional speaker.  Her speech today is “I’ve always worn purple“.  Because why should we wait till we’re old to do crazy things?  Why must we worry so much about saving for a rainy day – if we could do with a bit of cheering up now?!  We do not advocate recklessness, but reviewing our priorities and values and making adjustments – minor or major – where possible to regain control of our lives can open up so many doors…

If you feel we may be able to help you, please get in touch… here’s the latest email from our Stepping Off alumnus, Vicky in Thailand:

“I cant believe a year ago I was in my flat paralysed about my next move and the options open to me and now I am here it feels very strange sometimes, for the first few weeks it felt like a holiday, then I felt I was skiving school but now it feels good and I can’t believe I have to go for my visa run soon. 

“Going forward I am not sure what I am going to do and to be perfectly honest I am not thinking about it just yet.  I am meeting so many people and I have so many new thoughts everyday I am enjoying the freedom of not having to do anything for the time being I might train to be a dive master if I can get over my fear of fish, I might go work as a PA in Dubai for 6 months until the next season, I might see about joining a crew on a boat for a few months, I really don’t know.  I have enough money to see me through until the end of the season as long as I don’t go crazy, but to be honest I don’t need to go crazy I am not substituting buying new things for happiness, it’s right here on this beach and every week I am learning new things.  A few weeks ago I learnt to drive a speed boat and I am currently getting to grips with riding a motorbike which is keeping me very busy!!!  Next will be sailing the hobie cat which looks great fun!

 Again  I can’t say how thankful I am that I came to see you last April I would never have done it if it hadn’t been for the help and support of you both, I truly feel like I have ‘Stepped Off’ and it feels wonderful.”

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.

Making the best of Blackcurrants

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

I love the summer.  Well if you can call this summer!  Though June was lovely even up here on the top of the fells in Cumbria!

Why do I love it – it is because you see all your work come to fruition. 

Today I have been picking blackcurrants and redcurrants. The bushes are heavy with berries this year.  I wanted to do something different with the fruit – I still have jam from last year.  So this year I have decided to make blackcurrant liqueur – Cassis.  It is lovely in the bottom of a glass topped up with sparkling white wine, Cava, Prosecco or if you are celebrating champagne!

It is so easy to make –

Crush the currents and fill a jar 3/4 full.  Add 150gms of sugar for each pint of liquid that the jar holds.  Fill the jar (leave a gap at the top as the liquid expands) with gin.  Let it stand until all the sugar is dissolved (I will  keep mine until Christmas). Strain the liquid through muslin and pour the juice into a bottle. Simple!

It makes for good Xmas presents or just enjoy it yourself as a treat.  It is really yummy and we convince ourselves that it goes towards one of our five a day!

How wonderful to have the time to do these things – just think I would have been sitting in commuter traffic  or still at the office at this time (20.30) if I was still living my old life!

Stop tolerating the intolerable!

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

How long are you going to put up with all those little things that drive you mad?

How many times in the past few months have you done something that you haven’t wanted to do;  gone somewhere that you have haven’t wanted to go to; or even  spent time with people that you don’t really have much in common with or whose company you don’t really enjoy?

Are there things in your life that irritate you?  How long have you tolerated the catch on the door being broken or put up with someone else’s pile of ‘stuff’ gathering dust in the corner of the room?

How many times are you going to put up adhering  with traditions – just because that is the way it has always been – like the round trip to spend time with the in-laws or having the traditional ‘family’ christmas when inside you are screaming to have for once  chrismas on your own? Ok we all have to do things that we don’t want to and many times it is because we do things for other people’s benefit. 

I am not suggesting that we become selfish, heartless or hurt other people but here are some things in our lives that we do tolerate needlessly and how much better , calmer and happier could we be if we stopped just tolerating them and made a decisive move to either do them with good grace or stop doing them all together.

Life is just too short to go on putting up with things that irritate, depress or just drive us mad.  So go on – break free and stop tolerating the intolerable!

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!