A walk in the woods and why it is important to honour the promises you make to yourself

About a month or so ago I made a promise to myself to try to spend more time outside. Well in my first ever video blog post (be kind), I confess that today it almost didn’t happen, even though it was a stunning autumn day.

If you don’t honour the promises you make to yourself, who else will?

If you want to spend more time doing something then give yourself permission and time to do it.

The important things in life need to be prioritised, otherwise they will get lost amongst all those things we “should” be doing.

For me, I love being outside, walking, exploring and relaxing.  And in this short video I chat a little more about why I love to walk in the woods in autumn – the original topic of my blog post today!

Here is some autumn inspiration.  

The results of my walk in the wood today.

There are so many ways to enjoy the autumn. Here are just some.

There are so many ways to enjoy the autumn. Here are just some.

A snapshot of an autumn day in Switzerland

A snapshot of an autumn day in Switzerland

Loving the autumn colours

Loving the autumn colours

A beautiful autumnal scene

A beautiful autumnal scene


And now over to you….you too can enjoy the autumn!!

And just in case you are procrastinating, this is how I deal with it!

Written by Catherine Evans Joines



Not just “some day” – My Perfect Summer’s Day

Today’s 30 Day Blog Challenge is to describe your perfect day but not as if it were some distant dream but as if you were living it in the here and now. Visualisation exercises like this are super powerful.  I find they help put things in perspective. They also give me the kick up the behind to make changes to what I am doing today, so that I will reach that goal, not just some day, but in the next 3-5 years.

So what would my perfect summer’s day look like?

I wake up in the morning early, just as the sun begins to stream through the open curtains and window. The dawn chorus is already in full voice and I can hear the sound of the stream in the distance. I get up and see the magnificent view of the hills outside, rolling as far as the eye can see. The breeze is a little fresh, but it is just what I need to shrug off the last remnants of drowsiness.

Now if I could wake up to this view every morning....

Now if I could wake up to this view every morning….

I pad down to the kitchen. And what a kitchen! A real country-style affair with lots of space for me to prepare food and a huge oven for those Sunday roasts and delicious cakes. The kitchen table in the centre is already laid from the night before (something I learnt from my mum), the jams, cereals, fruit bowl, crockery and cutlery. Perfect. I put the coffee machine on for my husband (I can’t stand the stuff but it seems he just can’t function without that caffeine fix first thing). Then I head out onto the terrace and do my 30 minutes of yoga and meditation. Just taking in the peace and quiet. Enjoying being by myself, those precious minutes to just regather and prepare for the day ahead.

I come in from the terrace to find my husband taking the croissants out of the oven. Mmmm. Nothing quite beats the smell of warm croissants in the morning, except perhaps freshly baked cakes in the afternoon! I enjoy my otherwise healthy breakfast: freshly squeezed orange juice, cornflakes topped with banana.  Breakfast is the most important meal and I need to be fueled up ready for the day ahead. Because today I have 2 client meetings (virtual, of course) and I am working hard on putting the final touches on the plans for the leisure expo, which will be held next month.

After breakfast I head back out onto the terrace, ensure the parasols are up to provide shade from the sun that I know will round the corner of the cottage soon.  I never have been able to work at a desk, so I kick back on our outdoor couch and get to work on the laptop.  The first 45 minutes are spent in a video call with my business partner, my sister. This time is, as usual, a mix of gossip, updating each other on the last week, brainstorming, allocation of important tasks, and setting a time for our next call.  You see we both travel often and we are often not in the same country, so Skype is invaluable to us. At the moment, she is off exploring and researching cool activities to do in Vietnam and Thailand. This is all part of the Leisure Guru experience, making the most of the opportunities out there.

Experience a river taxi in Northern Thailand

Experience a river taxi in Northern Thailand

So after the call with M, it is on to my client calls. I love these. Time to check in with people about the activities they might want to try in the coming months. Hearing the buzz and sense of achievement as they discuss their last adventures.  I can’t wait to get off the call and start researching for them. Finding where they could learn to scuba dive in Turkey, learn how to cook a thai meal in Thailand, make chocolates in Switzerland, balloon over the Serengeti during migration season. The list is endless. These assignments can be so varied and each one inspires me further. There is so much out there that I want to try. I make a note to find out (for myself) where I can find an alphorn lesson.

I want to have one lesson on the alphorn, just to try

I want to have one lesson on the alphorn, just to try

Gosh! It is lunchtime already.  Time for a change of scene. Today my husband and I grab the bikes after frantically stuffing the laptops into the rucksacks and head off into the village for a “continental” ploughmans.  The wind blows through my hair, the tyres scrunch along over the gritty path and the sun is beating on my back. I feel so carefree.  Our favourite “local” has really good wholesome food, a superb range of teas and the all important wifi! What more could I ask for? The owners are quite used to us settling in for the afternoon one or two times a week and today is no exception.  So after a fab lunch putting the world to rights with my husband it is again time to do a little more work.

With the green tea at my side, I log on to the email and social media. Yeah! All is progressing as it should for the expo. This is a relief. Our virtual assistant has it covered. Thank God for S. What would we do without her? Such a valuable member of the Leisure Guru team, keeping things ticking along on the tech side.   This means I can I get cracking on the fun stuff, writing for the blog, scheduling tweets and posts.  It is busy, absorbing work and as usual I don’t notice the time fly by.

Right 4.30pm – that’s it for the day on a work front.  Time to pedal back home, via the swimming pool for a quick dip and refresh.  I love the monotony of lane swimming. The constant back and forth.  Lifting one arm over and then the next, as the legs kick gently beneath the surface of the water.  My mind clears. Then it is the obligatory race at the end of the session with my husband.  This part is fun.  The only place where I am truly competitive is in the water. Today it is front crawl. I stand a slim chance of winning….let’s see…….Darn. Not today, lost by a whisker.

I love swimming

I love swimming

The ride back to the cottage is harder. It is uphill.  Remind me again why live at the top of the hill? Oh yes, I remember. We round the corner and see the little cottage surrounded by fields, the stream to the left and the hills behind it.  As we get closer I can smell the flowers in the garden and see our wee veggie patch. 

Time for dinner. Something light I think. Tomato and goats cheese tart with herbs from the garden, some salad and some home-grown spuds; homemade lemonade to accompany.  Dessert well that is the left-over banana and lemon cake, which I baked yesterday. Always a hit. Fresh homemade food, priceless.

Totally yummy banana and lemon cake

Totally yummy banana and lemon cake

We sit there out on the terrace enjoying each other’s company, supping lemonade, discussing and planning our next trip.  As yet the destination is unknown. Will it be hiring a campervan and travelling across Europe or heading to South American? Who knows…we have three months or so before we need to decide.

As the night draws in, I head up to bed. Content.

Totally enjoyed writing that piece and I realised how much of it I am actually doing right now or at least a version of it. Perhaps this will become reality sooner than I think!

This post was in response to the 30 Day Blog Challenge Day 5

Delving Deep to “Soar like an Eagle”

I decided to join the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge, albeit a few days late and so now am playing catch-up. This is an all too familiar state of affairs for me at the moment and is something I desperately wish to correct. I am still working hard in the corporate world and sometimes it feels like all I do is work and travel for business.  But since the start of the year I have been making subtle changes both in terms of my mindset but also in my actions.  Now I have a bit more get up and go. I am determined to make the most of my time away from the office, by really focusing and doing those things that interest me, which have sparked my imagination.

the birth of Leisure Guru 

Funnily enough this has coincided with my sister experiencing a similar desire for a change in direction.  We got chatting, as sisters do, and before we knew it the Leisure Guru blog was born. We are not experts, and neither do we pretend to be, as we haven’t yet got this leisure lark completely sussed, but one day we might!  The Leisure Guru blog is really our way of sharing our experiences of trying to maximise our time away from the office, so that we can look back on the last year and have some really cool stories to share.  Plus in years to come we will have a full suitcase of memories. Our hope is that you will enjoy sharing in our adventures and maybe it might inspire you too to grab life by the scruff of the neck and make it work for you!

So back to the challenge

The whole premise of the 30 day challenge is to respond to daily blog posts with one of your own.  I thought this would be an excellent way to gather momentum on the blog and get into a routine of writing and posting.  Here’s hoping! But as I am now arriving on day 4, this first post will have to be a mismatch response to not only today’s challenge but also those of the past 3 days… But hey what is a girl to do?

life on your terms requires clarity

As I read the first four challenges it became abundantly clear that in order to live life on your own terms both from a work and a lifestyle perspective you have to be crystal clear on what that looks like. Otherwise how are you going to know if you have made it? It is a bit like getting into the car with no clear destination. You just drive aimlessly round, turning left and right as the mood takes you.  But how do you know when you have reached the destination and you can get out for a while and admire the view before getting back in and deciding where to go to next? It appears that living your best possible life requires some planning and some strategy….it seems that we need to have “goals”.

your best life requires “goals”

It is all too easy to say “I want to put the zing back into my life by doing more fun things, travelling and seeing new places, meeting new people.” Being a bit of a control-freak I, of course, want to have more control over what I do with my time and be able to do work that can come with me wherever I am. I want to be location-independent. And naturally being a bit of a leisureholic I need to have time to wind-down and chill-out. But what does all that actually mean in practice and what does it look like?

delve deep to find your true heart’s desires

To be honest, I am still trying to delve down into my true heart’s desires in order to have a really clear vision on where I want to be and what I want to be doing, but this is what I have figured out already (in no particular order).

  1. I love the outdoors. The mountains and the sea to be specific.  I need to spend time outdoors every day. As I work from home when I am not travelling, this has been relatively easy to achieve. Today I even worked on the balcony sheltered by the canopy from the rain teeming down. Surprisingly refreshing!
  2. I like being active, but hate the gym. However, doing all the same exercises outdoors is actually quite appealing. Getting on the bike for a cycle ride, jogging round the block, hiking in the mountains, swimming in the lido, doing the parcours (outdoor gym thing with 10 stations on a 1.5 km route) – now that sounds much better.
  3. I love to cook healthy food, and be inventive with it. My poor husband has been subjected to all manner of weird and wonderful combinations and creations. I am loving experimenting.
  4. I need to be able to explore and investigate and learn new things.  I explore in the online world as well as the real one. I have been learning about building the life I want; doing several courses or events which have sparked my imagination; researching trips and vacations; fiddling with and learning wordpress to create this blog; visiting new cities; getting out there and trying new things; scaring myself doing adrenaline-fuelled activities. And all this in the past 7 months!
  5. I love being with my family and friends and spending “quality fun” time with them, not just being there in body but being really present.
  6. I need for work to inspire me, to really interest me. I need to work with people who have passion, who are enthusiastic about what they do. I get a buzz from being around those people who care about what they do and believe that their contribution makes a difference.  I need to feel that passion, to end the day feeling I achieved something.
  7. I am not defined by my job title.  I want a “job” that is flexible, which allows me to work from anywhere, at any time. I need it to mould to my life. I may choose to work all the time from the coffee shop round the corner, but if I want to, I want to be able to pick it all up and work from the ski chalet in winter and from the beach in summer.  I need that flexibility so that I can spend more time with those I love and care about.
  8. But most of all I need to play to my strengths. No more trying to be good at everything. I need to focus. I know that when I am doing those things that I am truly good at, it doesn’t feel like work. I finish and it has been “easy” – I have worked hard, but I was happy slogging away, figuring out those little bugs, researching that idea, investigating the best deals.  I am a lean mean researching organising machine!

how did I figure this much out?

Well, quite a bit of soul-searching, of noting down what made me smile, what gave me a sinking feeling, realising when I had completely lost track of time and when it was dragging into eternity and beyond.

But the best exercise of all was creating a board all about me and what I connected with, what inspired me, what would make me feel like I could “soar like an eagle”.

My dream board part 1

My dream board part 1

My dream board part 2

My dream board part 2

If you have never done this, it is simple. Get loads of magazines, scissors, a piece of paper, glue and stopwatch. Set the stopwatch for 45 min and then you are off into your own world (fab music helps here too). Flip through the magazine cutting out pictures or words, which call to you. These could be activities you want to try, scenes you would like to visit, really anything that makes you smile and think “hell yeah!”.  Stick the pictures to the piece of paper and hey presto after 45 min you have your board.

My board sits on my dressing table so that first thing every day I see the elements of my dream and know what I am ultimately working toward.

Awesome leisure is part of an awesome life!

In response to http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/blogchallenge/blog-challenge-day4/

10 awesome (and nearly free) ways to enjoy the outdoors this summer

This week I was on a work trip to Warsaw, Poland and as usual I didn’t have a lot of time for me during the 2 days.  But as this was my first real visit to Warsaw I was determined that this time I would see something of the city. So bright and early one morning before my meetings for the day started, I decided to explore the city.  The weather was perfect, the sun was shining and it felt like summer might be finally here.  As the city slowly woke, I enjoyed my “free” sightseeing and the benefits of fresh air and exercise first thing in the morning. As I wandered, I got to thinking about how I could spend more time enjoying the outdoors this summer (weather permitting!!).  Here is my list.

1. Swimming in the lake or Lido (as I live in Switzerland this is relatively easy but could be substituted for swimming in the sea, if you are brave enough to venture in the coast round Britain!)

Enjoying the summer sun and cooling off in Lake Zug

Enjoying the summer sun and cooling off in Lake Zug

2. Walking in the forest or in the mountains. Essentially anywhere where there are more birds than cars!

3. Arrange an evening BBQ with friends. Here in Switzerland we have these great little grill places tucked into the woods or by the lakes, which are ready and waiting for us with wood and kindling available.  So all we need bring are the matches, our sausages and burgers (oh and salad) and drinks! Super easy.  Grilling and watching the sun go down, chatting with friends. What could be better?

4. Cycling by the lake or through the park. With the many bicycle rental schemes around, even if you don’t own a bike, it is easy to rent one and whisk yourself through the parks under your own steam.  Also perfect if you are visiting a new city and want to see more, faster!

5. Have a picnic “Dad style”. So when Morag and I were little, we often went on holidays with our Dad. Now Dad didn’t have a lot of patience for making packed lunches and relied instead on the impromptu picnic to keep us fuelled for the afternoon.  A “Dad style” picnic involves heading to the nearest baker, choosing some nice baguettes or rolls. The baker is followed by a stop at a delicatessen for the ham/beef that will be the filling for our sandwich; then the greengrocer for some fruit for dessert. And finally the newsagent for the drinks.  Next stop, a nice bench in the park or by the lake to sit back and enjoy a back-to-basics picnic! Superb!

6. For those summer evenings, mosey on down to the nearest “free” music event near you.  And chill out listening as the music fills the evening air.  For me this would be the free Jazz event that happens every Wednesday evening in summer at the local bandstand.

7. Crazy golf! Grossly underrated. Crazy golf, or mini-golf as it is known here in Switzerland, can be a real laugh especially with friends.  It can bring out the competitive side of even the most mild-mannered people!

Nothing like a little competitiveness between friends!

8. Rollerblading – this is very popular here in Switzerland and there are loads of Rollerblade paths (as they are just like cycle paths, this should be easy to try almost anywhere – if I can stay upright!)

9. Head to town and be a tourist for the day…take the camera and really view the city through fresh eyes.  Just as I did in Warsaw this week.  I plan to visit Zürich one weekend this summer and just enjoy being there instead of frantically dashing in and out of shops!

10. Now the best way to enjoy the outdoors this summer for me is at home, on the balcony. Sitting there with a good book, listening to music and sipping home-made lemonade. Bliss!