Refreshment for the Soul


Every year for the last 4 years I have looked forward to one particular conference, the annual Swiss Group for Mass Spectrometry (SGMS) meeting – a niche scientific meeting, which takes place in the stunning location of Beatenberg, a village situated high above Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. The meeting only lasts 24 hours but I always leave feeling refreshed.

Looking from Beatenberg toward the snow capped mountains in the distance

Looking from the Dorint hotel in Beatenberg toward the snow capped mountains in the distance

The air is cooler, fresher, cleaner. You can hear the goat and cow bells ring out over the meadows, see the blue-green lake below and the eagles gracing the sky above. And if that doesn’t sound idylic enough, on a clear day you are blessed with one of the best vistas that Switzerland has to offer. For directly across from Beatenberg you can see the snow-covered Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau. These three peaks are some of the highest and most impressive mountains in Alps and make up one of the most famous and emblematic sights in Switzerland.  You can not help but be in awe. 

The Alps at Dusk

The Alps at Dusk

I can and do spend some time just staring out at the mountains. Meditating.  Watching the sun set at about 5.30pm and the mountains getting a red-orange hue across them or seeing the first rays of sun spring from behind the mountain peaks. Magical.  I am not sure what it is about the mountains but they have a calming influence on me.  After the hecticness of a busy work day, being selfish and taking 10-20 minutes just for me to clear my mind and with no distractions, truly is refreshment for the soul.

Evening light over the Alps

Evening light over the Alps

 Written by Catherine Evans Joines



Power of a Break and a BONUS Post too!

Power of a Break

I have my summer holidays later than most and this year was no exception. We visited the lovely island of Kos and I took an almost complete “tech” sabbatical.  It was an excellent way to just get back to doing what us humans have done without aids for thousands of years….communicate face-to-face with each other…no need for electronic gadgetry. With the distractions gone, you can just get on with living in the now, which I found totally refreshing.  It is amazing how much you later remember when you are actually fully engaged in the moment and how time isn’t blurring into a stream of sameness.  Mind you, I admit that this is much easier to accomplish when you are on holiday….next challenge is to achieve this in “normal” life!

self-imposed break from technology

A refreshing break with no technology

A refreshing break with no technology

So after my semi-self imposed break from technology I took some time to actually just do those things that are important to me, that fire me up and help me have outlets for my energy and creativity other than the 9 to 5.  There has been quite a lot to digest, and I will share more in the coming weeks, when I again find time to really focus on my writing. And although I do realise it has been a few weeks since I lasted posted here at Leisure Guru, I haven’t been entirely dormant on the writing front.

Previously I wrote about my hopes for Leisure Guru and mentioned I was preparing a guest post for the Emerge and Evolve Magazine……well…. ta da!  My “6 (and a bit) business travel tips” have now been published. So I am keeping things ticking along and working towards more “Perfect Days“.

guest post published – 6 (and a bit) Business Travel Tips

So what’s next? Well I have few more posts planned on my “personal discoveries” from my holiday to Kos plus we are coming into one of my favourite seasons….autumn, quickly followed by winter….so expect articles on good winter warming foods, my ideal winter’s day, winter sports and a whole lot more. But for now, why don’t you head over and read my tips for making the most of your next business trip so you see more than this….. (and yes, I did take a picture of the inside of an airplane!)

See a lot more than this on your next business trip

See a lot more than this on your next business trip

Post written by Catherine Evans Joines

The perfect leisure filled life? It’s going to take some hard work . . .

Dreams - Bernhard Edmunds
As part of The Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 day blog challenge, Catherine’s spent the last few blogs talking about the importance of finding out what you’re really about, what you want your life to look like and prioritising how to get there.

Now, I’m temporarily in a slightly more fortunate position than Catherine who is still leading a double life of corporate chick and wannabe leisure addict. In April, I took a year sabbatical from my corporate job when my husband was offered a 12-month work contract in Abu Dhabi. As fate would have it that’s morphed a bit and after 2 months in the UAE we’re now living in Bangkok for 3 months, due to head back to the Middle East at the end of September.

On top of being able to live in these new places, I’m incredibly blessed because I don’t need to work in a ‘traditional job’ whilst we’re away (in fact visa restrictions actually make it really tough to), and financially we can afford for me not to (it’s tight but doable). Even luckier, I have a hubby who is fully onboard with me wanting to ditch my corporate lifestyle in favour of running the show myself (via an online business that leaves lots of time for leisure). In fact, I think he feels like the PoW watching his buddy scale the prison fence and make the bid for freedom,  “if she manages to do this and get away, perhaps there’s hope for my escape. . . ”

Nirvana right? A whole year to work on getting the dream life so I don’t have to go back to the big company prison? Except here’s the rub, the bit I’m quite ashamed I’m actually going to say–

it’s a hell of a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.

There I said it.

The reality is that there’s something quite comforting in working for the corporate machine. The pressure is on them; they make the calls, set the direction of travel and schedule the work. There’s an enforced routine, human interaction every day and, if you’re lucky, feedback on how you’re doing. And after ten plus years I’ve learnt the rules and know what to do to survive. Now even if you hate your life in this machine (and trust me, I really really did), when it all gets stripped away suddenly you realize you’re standing on your own, metaphorically naked, and feeling more than a little bit vulnerable.

Now don’t get me wrong, during my first few weeks I loved it. I devoured my new leisure time. I read every book I’d been wanting to read for the last 3 years, I sat outside in the sunshine watching the world go by, I did my weekly shop in the middle of the working day when it took 30 minutes instead of the 90 minute weekend hell, I had time (and energy) to make food from scratch. I consumed blogs on travel imagining all the places I could now go to. I created my dream board, drew a ‘get a life’ tree (more on this in another blog), decided on my top 5 goals to make this my best year yet and did all that absolutely essential planning Catherine has been blogging about. It was really quite fabulous.

Except now I’m 100 or so days into this experience, and I notice my mood is starting to change, it’s getting tougher to make dreams a reality and I knew I was in trouble last night when I thought about my old corporate life and seriously considered going back. “It wasn’t that bad, it paid well, it was relatively secure’ all flashed across my mind. This of course is total BS – I would often start work at 4am and finish late into the evening; our honeymoon was the first time in 18 months hubby and I had spent longer than 7 consecutive days together (travelling for work having kept us apart previously). My old corporate life had more than a few serious flaws.

So where does that leave me? Well I have a vast array of great dreams, ideas, possibilities and opportunities – the world is my oyster. The problem is, that despite the dream board and goal planning, I don’t appear to have a terribly detailed map to navigate this new world. More problematic still, is the reason that map is missing, is because I haven’t drawn it yet.

It’s all on me now.

If I fail at making the most of this opportunity then it will be entirely my own fault.

I am the master of my own destiny and potentially my biggest saboteur.

And that quite frankly is, in equal parts, the most exciting and terrifying position I have ever been in. And what it’s taken me 100 days of dreaming, goal setting and prioritizing to realize is that creating my new life’s map, that will help me get to that awesome leisure filled life, is going to take a lot of hard work. In fact standing at the beginning of this journey, having already experienced some bad days, false starts and set backs; I’d say it would be a safe bet that this is going to be the hardest change I have ever had to make.

So following on from Catherine’s 30-day blog challenge, I’m going to take on a little challenge of my own.  I reckon building a new life is a bit like building a house, you’ve got to start by getting the foundations right. When you have that you know the base is solid and everything that gets added on top will hold fast.

When Catherine and I founded Leisure Guru we said we wanted to take the hard work out of leisure, and making the transition from dreaming to doing is hard. And let’s be real here, 99.9% of folks are not going to be able to take a sabbatical to help them become a life long leisureholic. So I’m going to try to do some of the legwork for you guys, I’m going to see what it takes to build those foundations. By the end of it I’m going to be honest, I won’t be able to draw your life map, only you can do that, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to pass you a template that you can adapt rather than a blank piece of paper.

So let’s see how we get on, someone pass me a spade so I can get cracking on these here foundations – no wait – too hard – anyone know where to hire a mini digger . . .

Written by Morag Young

The importance of being YOU

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

What a great quote!  We are all individuals. Each a sum of our own experiences, knowledge and personality. No two people are exactly the same. (Thank goodness, or the world would be a very boring place.)

difficult to stand out online

But with only words and syntax (and perhaps the odd photo or video) it can be really difficult to allow the “real” you to stand out in the online world. Always wondering if what you have written could be taken the “wrong way” or misinterpreted – it is a veritable minefield. When we started this blog I made a conscious decision to just write from the heart, as if I was talking and not to worry too much about being grammatically correct (although sometimes I do succumb and make some adjustments!), or whether my comments could be misinterpreted.

Five Girls, Conformity Versus Individualism

For me this is working. I am finding I am writing freely and I am enjoying it, which after all is the main reason we started the blog – for enjoyment. The blog is giving me space to actually articulate my thoughts and ideas on a topic that I feel passionate about: really enjoying and living the one life we have. We should not be looking back in years to come regretting a missed opportunity. I firmly believe that in 50 years time, you will regret more the things you could have done but didn’t, than the things you did but shouldn’t have.

passion for life  – no regrets

Where this passion for making the most of life came from I am not sure. I think it has always been there lurking in the background but it has taken some years for it to be really at the forefront of my mind. But now it is a major factor in the majority of decisions I make and the attitude I have toward problems/issues/niggles and of course the good things in life too.

getting to know “me”

I would say that over the past decade, but more so this last 9 months, I have been slowly getting to know myself; really working out what I like/don’t like; what I am ambivalent about and what bores me to tears. I have done personality tests to get the “scientific” perspective on me, as well as just observed for myself the reactions I have to various situations. It is through this “getting to know me” process that I have uncovered this passion for creating and living your best life and making it work for you.

First know yourself, then you will begin to understand why things are as they are, and why life is as it is. -Leon Brown

So what else have I learnt? Family is very important to me. I am an introvert, so need to spend time on my own to recharge my batteries…too many people for too long freaks me out and I need to return to the comfort of my home for some quiet time. I am ambitious; I am stubborn; I work hard; I strive to do the very best I can do; I am focused; I love learning, helping, researching, organizing, improving. I can be a perfectionist and I can procrastinate when I don’t want to do something. I could go on…but I think you already know me a little better now… 

Other than for you to get to know me, there is another reason why I shared these insights about me. I believe that to be able to let your personality shine in the online world you need to know who you are and what makes you tick in the real world. And I definitely don’t believe in portraying a different persona online to the one you would meet in real life. What you see is what you get!

businesses have personalities too

Businesses also have personalities and core qualities that define who or what they are – they have a brand. Morag and I want Leisure Guru to be unique, fun, fresh, practical, provocative, quirky and with a hint of luxury on the side. These are the “personality traits” we hope Leisure Guru will develop over the coming months and years.

Written by Catherine Evans Joines

This post was written in response to the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge – Day 12