Posts Tagged ‘having fun downshifting’

Whatever the weather… keep a sunny disposition. We CAN change the way we feel…

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Whatever the weather… I have just been exchanging emails with a friend about the weather – why is it that when I went camping it immediately started to rain and when I got back to work it was glorious sunshine? He, on the other hand, couldn’t believe the need for extra jumpers in September – “bah, humbug!” – so I got to wondering how much the weather can influence our mood…
There are plenty of clues in our language about the link between mood and weather: having a sunny disposition or a face like thunder, stormy relationship, frosty reception… and research tells us that the weather can indeed have an impact on us – sometimes as a contributory factor to mental illness. More commonly most of us have felt a sense of gloom after a long patch of grey days; and it is so much easier to count our blessings when they are bathed in sunshine! Of course the impact of the weather is also dictated by what it means for us. A camping trip can be ruined by continuous rain; snow can be beautiful – but that’s unimportant if you know you have to work outside however deep it drifts; a hot sunny day can be uplifting – but less fun if you can only see it at a brief time-out from the factory floor. This of course comes back to the fact that what we think affects how we feel.
We can influence what we think and therefore how we feel. Under canvas, it can be exhilarating listening to the rain falling on the tent; working in the cold snow can be bearable if the focus is on the cup of tea and a hot bath at the end of the chores; looking forward to the fresh air and sunshine of a coffee break can be like anticipating a mini holiday, and like a holiday, the sun soaked up in the minutes of freedom can see you through till the next one! I think it was Billy Connolly that said “there’s no such thing as bad weather – just wrong clothing”. John Ruskin said: “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.“ So here’s to having good weather and the right clothing!

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!

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!

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…

Harmonious Christmas- mind the hormones!

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I thought you might like to share our most recent column. Hope you have a Happy Christmas…

Hormones… who needs ‘em?!  Obviously – though I’m no doctor – we all do.  They regulate so many parts of our physical functioning… and of course our emotional functioning.  New lovers often find their hormones “raging”, many women swear by HRT – hormone replacement therapy – and of course testosterone is often blamed as the macho villain of the piece.

In reality, hormones – from the Greek word for ‘impetus’ – are vital chemical messengers released into the blood stream to keep complex functions perfectly balanced; growth, reproduction, cell renewal, fight and flight reactions etc.  There is no doubt that they have a part to play in falling in love, or that puberty can often create hormonal chaos.  It can be hard to understand at the time that emotions and mood swings can be, if not created, then at least influenced by this chemistry.  Sometimes it is easier to recognise it in retrospect, for example when lads and lasses ease out of a surly “Kevin” stage to emerge butterfly-like as well balanced, fully functioning members of the human race!

It is women’s hormones that are perhaps most widely discussed – often prejudicially using “the time of the month” as an accusation. Looking back I suspect my adolescent hormones clashed horribly with my Mother’s menopausal ones… and a flashpoint, as with so many families was often, sadly, Christmas!  That traditional scene of several generations gathering for the festivities… adolescents wanting to do it all their own way, newly-weds in love and seeing only each-other and not the washing-up, emotional expectant or overjoyed new parents, menopausal grandparents knowing best and doing their best and imposing their best… and the older generation surrounded by the chaos!

I am not going to suggest that anyone blames hormones or abdicates responsibility for their actions using chemistry as an excuse.  I am suggesting making allowances for the impact of hormones – in you and in other people.  If you find yourself or someone else suddenly and surprisingly tearful, aggressive or intolerant this Christmas – give yourself a break!  Step back, take a few minutes – breathe deeply, and remind yourself that chances are, you and every one around you would prefer to enjoy Christmas…. and it is possible!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Have a happy, peaceful, and well-balanced Christmas.

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!

Here's a thought….

Friday, July 17th, 2009

We have been asked to write a  short column for Carlisle Living magazine – and I thought I would share them with you. 

When was the last time you had fun? 

Go on; think about it… if you can honestly say that you’ve had a really great time quite recently, congratulations, you are in a happy minority!  Usually, asking someone when they last really had fun brings them up short.  It suddenly can seem that life is flying by.  Sometimes we are so busy keeping up with the pace of life, change and technology, rushing around doing the chores as well as comparing the prices of electricity and sliced bread that we forget to take time out for the important things – such as having fun. 

Having fun doesn’t have to be selfish – but it can be.  Having fun doesn’t have to be active – but it can be.  Having fun doesn’t have to be play – some lucky folk have great fun at work!  When Kath Smart asked if I would be happy to write a column for this new magazine my first thought was “that sounds like a fun thing to do”. If I had thought it would be more hassle – I wouldn’t be doing it!  I know that we can’t all choose how we spend all our time.  But I also know that if we don’t actively choose to spend a bit of time on fun – the moment will be gone. 

We timetable dental appointments and we work around other people’s schedules all the time.  If you read the first question and couldn’t remember the last time you had a good laugh, timetable some fun into your life!  Promise yourself that every month or every week you will do something that you enjoy.  Book a pedicure…  watch a movie…  Sit down and finish that book you’re reading…  Catch up with that friend you keep meaning to call!  See how you can turn everyday work or chores into something a bit more fun – or make sure there is a precious moment each day to look forward to and enjoy – you deserve it!

Getting Away.

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

One of the great things about leading a quieter, simpler life after downshifting – is that when you do go out and do something different – it is really exciting.

We have just come back from a short break in Paris.  Fantastic – we haven’t really had a holiday for a couple of years (mostly because life at home is pretty good and when you live somewhere so wonderful why would you go away?)  But away we went….  Paris was great – but oh so expensive – 12euros for 1/2 a litre of beer – that’s £10 a pint! and the cheapest bottle of wine we saw on a menu at even the smallest of restaurants/cafes was 22 euros!  You have to be kidding!

Anyway we didn’t let that stop us – we ate lots of wonderful meals, we walked for miles and did lots, saw as much as we could.  We even got given a free ride down the Champs Elysees in a MacDonald’s rickshaw and given a free ice cream.  It was a heart stopping moment when I thought the guy was going to take us around the Arc de Triumphe in the rickshaw.  I am brave – but not that brave!

We had a great time – but as always as George says “East, West – Home is best” and she is right.  Lovely to have a break away – but also lovely to come home.  Heavens – Am I losing my sense of adventure?  Surely not!

It is just great to enjoy the simple and quiet things in life as well as all the crazy times.

Making sure our new life is fun!

Sunday, June 28th, 2009
One of the decisions we have made – is to not do any work that we don’t think will be fun!  So if it is going to be fun then we will have a go.  This is easy when you have undergone Personal diversification – and have a number of different income streams.

So in that vein – I was thinking about how to market Smoky Jo’s – our food smoking courses, and I decided that if we were going to spend money on marketing it would have to be on something we enjoyed.

Since owning and running the Old  Smokehouse at Brougham Hall (sadly not there anymore!) we have enjoyed doing the ‘County Shows’.  So I thought that as we hadn’t been to a show for a while we ought to take a stand and advertise Smoky Jo’s.

So that is what we did.  We went down to the Cheshire Show this week, and had a stand in the food hall. 


Smoky George at the Cheshire Show

Smoky George at the Cheshire Show

We had great fun – stayed in a Travel Lodge – cheap and cheerful.  We went out for a curry on the first night- big treat! – and had a picnic on the second evening consisting of lots of lovely goodies picked up from the food hall that day.  Lovely!

We met some great people – many who booked courses with us and lots more who I hope will book with us in the future .  Lets face it – what better present to give someone who loves their food for Xmas or birthday than a Food Smoking Course with Smoky Jo’s.

So get out there and have fun – and even when it is work – make sure your new life is fun, fun, fun!