60 new things to do now I’m 60

As I had a big birthday recently, my husband suggested I make a list of sixty new things to do now I’m sixty – there’s a challenge!

Reviving my neglected blog doesn’t count as a new thing, but I thought committing a few ideas to paper might help – as a friend pointed out, if I intend to do them all before next birthday, I’d better get my skates on!  Here’s a few ideas I have already, but I need your suggestions – the only criteria is that they should be fun and fulfilling.

Creative Fun – Tell stories at Whitby Folk Festival, create a songs and stories show with the fabulous Jamie Cook to perform at Staveley Folk Weekend in August, perform songs with a choir, learn to play my baritone ukulele . . .

New Skills – Learn (a few words!) of a new language, make something on a potter’s wheel, be an Airbnb host, master some hula hoop tricks  . . .

Outdoor Fun – climb a new mountain, swim in a new lake, canoe somewhere new, do a park run . . .

New places to visit – Slovenia, a Scottish island, Festival at the Edge . . .

Now, over to you – suggestions I’ve had already are skydiving (sorry, not very keen on heights), pole dancing (bit uncoordinated for that), drinking champagne every day (my liver and my bank balance have vetoed that one) and doing an escape room (no idea, but it sounds fun).  Also several suggestions for books I should read, films I should see, bands I should listen to, foods I should try . . .

Will your suggestion make my list?  Let’s see how many I can tick off before next birthday!

Three Lakes Challenge Update!

We did it – and how! So proud to be one of the team of twenty people who took on the challenge of rowing 38 km along the three longest lakes in the Lake District in under 12 hours last week.  We paddled the length of Ullswater in Voyager canoes, Coniston Water in Canadian canoes, and tackled Windermere – England’s largest lake – from the southern tip to the northern end in rowing boats.
voyager canoeWhat a tough but brilliant day, from setting off in the half-light at 6.30 am to find overnight snow had fallen, making The Struggle – the famously steep road linking Ambleside to the Kirkstone Pass – quite a hair-raising challenge for our minibus driver!  Thankfully we got to Glenridding safely and piled into two Voyager canoes to set off to paddle along the length of Ullswater, the calm conditions and  perfect reflections creating a picture postcard backdrop to our efforts.
canoes croppedHaving worked up an appetite it didn’t seem too long until we were back at Brathay enjoying a freshly-cooked breakfast before on to Coniston Water and into rafted Canadian canoes. A sudden blustery head wind and torrential rain had us working hard, but fortunately the storm passed and sunshine and showers – with lovely low rainbows across the lake – accompanied us for the rest of the journey.
Good photo from Tali

The final leg of the journey was the longest, but over three hours of steady rowing in whaler boats brought us from Fell Foot park at the southern tip of Windermere back to Brathay boathouse and a celebratory glass of fizz on the front lawn.

Susie’s aim – to share a unique and unforgettable experience with her family and friends – had been fully realised; it was a day all of us will remember for years to come.  Thanks to teamwork – together with the support of Brathay staff and volunteers – we completed the challenge in just under ten hours. That’s not the only record smashed as originally we hoped to raise £2,000 for CancerCare – yet the total donated has already more than doubled that.  You can still donate to this fantastic local charity here.susie canoe

Susie was able to participate fully in the whole experience thanks to a specially-designed canoe seat to support her back and enable her to paddle and steer throughout the day.  Her courage and good humour were the best motivation we could have to keep going and fulfil her dream.

“. . . and may every dip of your paddle lead you toward a rediscovery of yourself, of your canoeing companions, of the wonders of nature, and of the unmatched physical and spiritual rapture made possible by the humble canoe”.

Small is Beautiful

1582Whenever I watch Glastonbury at home on the telly, I feel rather thankful that I’m getting a better view than the tiny dots at the back of the crowd (and that I have the luxury of indoor plumbing).  However as you know from previous posts, I’m crazy about live music so I love a good festival.  I just prefer the ones where you can be up close and personal with the performers and only have a few yards to crawl to your tent at the end of the night – for me that’s a perfect summer weekend.

The gorgeous weather helped to make two July weekends in a row the pinnacle of happiness for me – Furness Tradition followed by Music on the Marr, both small but perfectly formed events with something for everyone, from soulful tunes to foot-stomping bands with storytelling and dance thrown in for good measure.  I’m sure no big festival can ever match them for warmth and friendliness, and it’s wonderful to have a platform here in Cumbria for young and talented musicians to showcase their skills on the same stage as world-class performers with years of experience.    Continue reading

Father’s Day Gifts

546120_461213067244937_869093068_nIt was Father’s Day yesterday – traditionally a time to say thank you to dads everywhere and perhaps give them a token of appreciation.  Mine isn’t here to do that, so I thought I’d write about the gifts he gave me instead.

My dad was old-school, in that he wasn’t present at the birth of his children and never changed a nappy – men didn’t much, at that time. Though come to think of it he wasn’t too hot at some of the masculine roles either – it was my mum who painted the house and wallpapered, and took charge of the finances (counting coins into carefully labelled envelopes in those pre-direct debit days).  Nevertheless he was so delighted at my early-morning home birth  that I seem to remember a tale about him jumping on a bicycle half-dressed and rushing off to tell my grandmother that he had a daughter at last (after three sons), ignoring the racing pedals cutting into his bare feet.  Seems a little unlikely (surely it wouldn’t have taken a minute to put his shoes on?) so perhaps like all the best stories, not meant to be taken literally!    Continue reading

Happy April Fool’s Day!

How great that we have a special day to celebrate jokes and pranks!  Apparently as far back as the Romans many different cultures have had days of foolishness around late March or  the beginning of April – perhaps there’s something about the time of year, with the turn from winter to spring, that lends itself to light-hearted moments.  (Especially so this year when winter has outstayed its welcome – we’re all ready for a bit of spring fever).

Traditionally the laugh is usually at someone else’s expense, and involves tricking the gullible into believing something far-fetched.  My favourite was one pulled by the much-missed astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who on the morning of 1st April 1976 announced on the radio that a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was about to take place. He said the planets Pluto and Jupiter were temporarily causing a gravitational alignment and if listeners  jumped in the air at exactly the right moment, they would experience a strange sensation.  So convincing was Patrick that the BBC received hundreds of phone calls from excited listeners – one woman even reported she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room!     Continue reading

Sharing Happiness and Laughter at the TA Conference

Just a few reflections from a fantastic day at the Cumbria Transactional Analysis Conference on 23rd February.  Thanks to the committee for organising another successful event, which brought together 130 people to enjoy workshops on a wide range of topics in a great venue with a delicious lunch.  Good luck with plans for next year’s conference, which will be the tenth one held here in Cumbria so a special date to celebrate!

I ran a 2-hour workshop in the morning called Happiness Matters, so many thanks to the participants who chose to come along and explore why happiness is so important to all of us.  We discussed definitions of happiness, the impact of authentic happiness on our physical and emotional health, how our beliefs and family stories around happiness affect our own experience of it, and our unconscious ‘Happiness Contract’ – and how to revise and update it for optimum success.   Developing a positive mind-set, building flourishing relationships, and enhancing wellbeing and resilience can offer huge benefits both to ourselves and the people we come into contact with, so it was great to see people relating the tools and activities to situations they met in home and work life – good luck in putting all your positive intentions into action!      Continue reading

More Reflections on Coaching Happiness

Let’s start with some real reflections from the Lake District – we’re enjoying a few days of golden autumn sunshine.  Thank you to my musician friend Fiona who captured this beautiful view across Windermere.

I promised a few more thoughts on workshops I’ve delivered recently.  The one I co-facilitated at the Cumbria Coaching Network‘s Coaching for Happiness conference with Beth Curl of Hyproformance was called Happiness from Within, and explored how some of our beliefs about happiness – often influenced by early family messages – can affect our later experiences.  Our participants had many thoughtful insights, both in the group discussions and in feedback afterwards. One mentioned two things that had a big impact on her, so I thought I would share them with you.     Continue reading

Key Learnings from The Coaching for Happiness Conference

And what a fantastic day we had at Cumbria Coaching Network‘s annual conference!  Thanks to all who came along and took part so enthusiastically in our range of workshops.  It’s a tense moment for any organisers of a long-awaited event when their preparations and planning are over and the participants start to arrive . . . so I’m delighted to report that the day surpassed our expectations and was memorable for all the right reasons.

I’ll reflect on the Happiness from Within workshop I co-presented with Beth Curl of Hyproformance and the therapeutic benefits of laughter yoga with Keith Adams of Laughter Aspirations in a later post – for now I’ll focus on what I learnt from our keynote presenter Henry Stewart, CEO of Happy Ltd and author of The Happy Manifesto.

Henry Stewart

Henry’s workshop was inspiring and energising, and challenged our thinking on some of the conventional structures, cultures and procedures of organisations with humour and playfulness.  It was so refreshing to think ‘outside of the box’ and see the audience engage readily in a lively debate on the topic of workplace happiness.  Although some of Henry’s principles may seem unorthodox, the fact that they are grounded in his own real-life practical experience of growing an effective, productive and profitable business meant that the examples he shared with us were really meaningful.     Continue reading

Don’t miss the Coaching for Happiness Conference – coming soon!

I can’t believe it’s September already, so I wanted to give you a quick reminder of our exciting event happening this month on Friday September 21st – now less than three weeks away!

Cumbria Coaching Network‘s annual conference will take place in Kendal and our theme this year is Happiness – so what are you waiting for?  Come and join us for a day of inspiring and interactive workshops on the themes of personal and workplace happiness, stress management and developing resilience, with international speaker, author and business leader Henry Stewart as our very special guest.     Continue reading

The Happy Manifesto comes to Cumbria!

I’m delighted to be involved in organising an exciting and high-profile event taking place later this year, aimed at putting Cumbria at the forefront of raising happiness in the workplace.

Cumbria Coaching Network is pleased to welcome Henry Stewart, author of The Happy Manifestoas keynote speaker to their Coaching for Happiness Conference on Friday 21st September 2012 at Carus Green Golf Club, Kendal.  Henry Stewart is the founder and Chief Executive of Happy Ltd., the computer training company which has been rated as the best company in the UK for customer service (Management Today) and for five years running is one of the top 20 workplaces in the UK (Financial Times).  Henry was selected for the Guru Radar Thinkers 50 List, the definitive listing of the world’s most influential business thinkers.  He is leading the way on workforce happiness and productivity, and is also well known for his lively and engaging style of delivery as a trainer and public speaker.   Continue reading