Make this YOUR year!

January 16, 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!


Harmonious Christmas- mind the hormones!

December 13, 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.

Make life better

October 30, 2009

You don’t have to downshift or change careeer or make huge changes to improve your life – small changes can bring big rewards. Here is another thought on how to improve life and start living more….

Tolerating the intolerable!

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 Christmas  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!

What stops you from changing your life?

September 15, 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!

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

September 3, 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!

Never count your chickens before they hatch!

August 1, 2009

Well another interesting year with the chickens.  Last year we had only five chicks and they all turned out to be cockrels!  This year is not turning out to be very much better.  We have had four batches of eggs with a broody hen on each.  The first one – Madame la Pomme  just hatched one chick – Puffin.

Mme La Pomme and her chick - Puffin.

Mme La Pomme and her chick - Puffin.

The second hen – Cornflake – hatched one chick and then proceeded to trample all over it.  Georgina rescued the poor little thing and hand fed it for a few hours and then gave it back to its Mother – who proceeded to trample all over it again.  In desperation we popped it under the wing of our third hen  – Mrs Noah who was sitting and she – although somewhat surprised by having a chick appear so quickly when she had only been sitting a few days began to look after it.  The inevitable happened of course – having got a chick she waited for a couple of days and as none of the others hatched she got off them and let them go cold.  Still a bird in the hand is worth two in the egg we say!  This one is called Shirley.

Wait for me mama!

Wait for me mama!

Lastly we had Precious who was sitting on six eggs.  I was so hopeful and watched her everyday – taking her off the eggs for 10 minutes and letting her wander around.  Finally the day came and the eggs started to hatch.  On the Saturday morning she had four chicks with one egg still cracking – I didn’t know where the other egg had gone.

We had a food smoking course that day so I was busy and didnt tell George as it was going to be a surprise.  Finally we would have a hen with a ‘string’ of little chicks running behind her.  But Oh, when I went to see her at the end of the day three of the chicks had died and the fourth was about to die.  Only one remained – Lucky!  I was devestated and took the little chicks and buried htem in out ‘Pet garden’.  Lucky has been renamed Tatoe – due to her love of potatoes!

Precious with Tatoe in the ark.

Precious with Tatoe in the ark.

So this year we have three hens all with one chick each!  However  I am pretty sure now that Puffin is a hen and I am so hoping that the other two will turn out to be hens as well. 

Little tatoe!

Little tatoe!

Madame La Pomme has abandoned Puffin and has gone broody again so I have been to a friends and got six eggs from her hen house.  She has Black Rocks, Wyndots and Light Sussex.  Four of the eggs are a beautiful dark chocolate colour. 

Nougat - always looking for an opportunity. "Could it be that you hiding my lunch?"

Nougat - always looking for an opportunity. "Could it be that you hiding my lunch?"

As always I have my fingers crossed.  Will keep you posted.

I am the Big daddy!

I am the Big daddy!

Andy of course it terribly proud of them all!

Fruit of our labour!

July 23, 2009

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Remember how hard we worked at Easter ploughing a furrow and preparing the ground for our raspberry plants?

Wild raspberries growing nearby

Wild raspberries growing nearby

Well having nurtured them all summer – watering and feeding them and trying to protect them from the Shap weather (!) they are finally bearing fruit.  Not many as yet – as this is the first year.  Also they were  present from our lovely neighbour Alexand she bought us three varieties – which all bear fruit at different times of the season.  Some early and some later in the year.


Molly and I with our first raspberry!

Molly and I with our first raspberry!

Also with the raspberries we transplanted two gooseberry bushes and two blackcurrant bushes and a redcurrant bush.  These are growing well but no fruit yet.

Raspberries with leeks planted in between!

Raspberries with leeks planted in between!

In addition we were also given a few leeks to bring on so I popped them in the ground – in between the raspberries and right at the end where I had about a square metre I planted some seed potatoes and a parsnip!!!   I am new to this and just thought I would have a little fun and see what happens.

Potatoes and parsnip doing very well – very exciting!