My journal and my life

Archive for the ‘Dog Walking’ Category

30 day Blog Challenge #Day6

OK, I fell behind with my blogs and as mentioned in my #Day5 and didn’t have enough time to truly write down my ideal day.  What I did was copy some content from a similar exercise that I did when I first launched my business three years ago.

This was the first time for a while that I’d read what I’d written and do you know what?  I’ve achieved a fair amount of those goals as many of my days actually follow the format that I wrote about!

I do now work virtually most of the time and have regular clients; I network locally to connect with business owners and potential new customers; I’m much more active online with social media and blogging (including certain challenges) and have obtained clients in this way.  I have the freedom to work with the clients that I want to and to refuse anything that doesn’t fit with my dreams – declining a job offer for example.  It felt so liberating and right to be able to say “No!”.

So onto the next stage of living my life on my own terms as my dream has changed.  Instead of owning a lovely house and garden, I want to dogs-112519_150travel, visit beautiful places, gain new experiences and form friendships.  I identified that pet sitting was one way of achieving this without launching into a round the world backpacking trip, so I’m registered with a couple of websites.

To begin with I’ve taken on assignments within a couple of hours from my current home, but by next year I’ll be in a position to travel abroad and for longer periods of time – living my dream life 🙂

http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/lifestyle-show/blog-challenge-day6

30 Day Blog Challenge #Day5

Due to a sudden commitment and life in general, I missed Day 5 of this challenge, which is a shame as I would have loved to sit down and write about my perfect day.  No matter, I’ll do this sometime soon for my own purpose.

However, when I first began as a Virtual Assistant, I signed up for a training course and had to do a similar exercise, so thought I’d quickly copy that description rather than missing a day of the challenge.  Here is an account of my perfect day from spring 2010, which isn’t at all a bad way of spending a day at work:

It’s a sunny day and I wake up at a reasonable 7am – gone are the days of leaving the house at 7.15am to commute into the city and I feel a sense of relief. It’s a lovely sunny day and I’ll enjoy walking my dog to her favourite pond in the local woods as it’s so great to have a flexible start to my work. I turn on my PC as the kettle boils and sit with a cup of tea and cereal to quickly check my emails and be sure there’s nothing needing immediate attention. Yes, there’s contact from my clients, but nothing that has to be done straight away so I mark all the emails as ‘unread’ so I don’t miss them later. The dog is getting impatient for her walk so we are in the woods by 8am.

I can hear the faint sounds of traffic, but I’m not affected & I think that thankfully it’s not me commuting to work as I stroll through the dappled light listening to birdsong. I think how scared I was when I first launched my business, how much courage it took not to fall into the trap of accepting a full-time job, although I was tempted to. I am proud of what I’ve achieved. I knew I could do it and ensured I had the necessary Hayley dogtraining to educate myself into thinking like a business owner. Most people I knew didn’t know what a VA was and I had to find the determination to continue. I surrounded myself with positive people who could encourage me and boy, did I grow. I knew I deserved to be paid my worth and no way would that have happened if I worked for an employer! I mouth my power words that kept me going “BELIEF”, “CONFIDENCE”, “SUCCESS” and “FREEDOM”.

It’s going to be hot day so with a weary wet dog, we return home. My house has tall spacious rooms & my office is downstairs at the back overlooking the garden. The old fashioned French doors are open and I can hear the bees buzzing on my lavender plants in my herb garden just outside. A quick sweep of my hands over the flowers releases their scent to add to the smell of fresh mown grass. In the distance there’s the sound of a lawn mower as my gardener cuts the grass. I can also hear the birds singing in the trees. Indoors there’s the faint sound of a vacuum cleaner as my cleaner goes about her job. I feel contented that I don’t have to do these tasks myself, it gives me more spare time and is a measure of my success that I can now afford to employ people “to do” for me, this is real luxury.

My office is decorated in cream, taupe & duck egg blue, my favourite restful colours with a large soft cream rug. There’s an open fire-place too as I have a real fire in winter when it’s icy outside – how fantastic that I don’t have to leave the house to work in inclement weather, no commuting – bliss! The furniture is a mix of old and new as I sit on a comfy swivel chair which supports my back – gone are the tension knots in my shoulders (helped in some part by the regular massages I have). With my team of Associate VAs, I have a very good income and I could probably even reduce my hours, but I’m a workaholic, always have been, although for a long time expending my energy into someone else’s business and success. Now I work full-time, but can juggle my hours to enjoy time out too as I’m able to knock off early then complete work into the evening or weekend if I choose. Choice, that’s it! I could work 9-5 if I wanted and some weeks I do, but to be able to choose not to without any loss of income – wow.

The computer is humming as I sip fresh coffee and re-check the emails. There’s some ongoing work to do for regular clients and also some new enquiries. A radio plays quietly in the background. My phone rings and it’s a regular client with a query I can resolve quickly and easily. I feel satisfied and even a little smug – this is the life! My clients are mostly sole traders and charity CEOs and I manage diaries and emails; organise meetings and travel; format and proof read reports; produce presentations and newsletters; update websites and undertake research; process new orders and send out invoices – all tasks I can do with my laptop, phone and access to an internet connection.

For lunch I’m looking forward to a fresh salad of seasonal veg, ham and cheese from the food boxes I have delivered from a local producer. I’ve a steady days work to do, then later I’m having my hair done at my regular hairdressers before meeting friends for a meal at our favourite restaurant. There’s a new car parked outside – something economical, eco-friendly and trendy and I’m so relieved that I can now afford all these things without planning, scrimping and worrying. I earn more than I did in any of my paid employment and my income steadily increases as business is good. This means that I can make impulse buys, treat myself to luxuries and go out on spec (work commitments allowing) without having to consider whether I can afford it or if something breaks down and needs repairing or replacing, I have the money to immediately do so. I have savings in the bank, can save regularly, pay my insurances and towards a pension so I can have an income during the quiet times or if I’m ill and be certain of affording a comfortable retirement.

Tomorrow I’ve an early business breakfast meeting, but it doesn’t scare me any more as I’m more than confident in myself, the success of my business and my good reputation to really promote myself without fear. I can even stand up and give a longer speech if necessary as I know what I say is worthwhile and informative. I’m more than happy to talk to people just starting out and it’s such a satisfying feeling to help them along their own way to success. The VA community was excellent for promoting this – where else do you have a network of like minded professionals dedicated to collaboration and sharing? I’m so proud to be a part of it.
http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/lifestyle-show/blog-challenge-day5

30 day Blog Challenge #Day2

If I woke up tomorrow and were free to do anything you wanted with my life, what would I do and who would I be?

The easiest part of the question above to answer is that I’d still be me!  Yes, I’ve made some blunders in my life and with hindsight, like most of us, I’d do a fair amount differently.  However, I try not to live with guilt or regret, I accept what happened and move forward, hopefully a better person from from what I’ve experienced and learned.

So who am I?  A business owner with an ambition to become 100% virtual and as a Virtual PA, I’m on my way.  Before I discovered The Suitcase Entrepreneur, I’d decided I wanted to travel the world, a decision which was prompted by a big change to my lifestyle.  I’d explored Virtual Assistance for a while as my husband wanted to live abroad and we would still need to earn a living.  Then my marriage broke down and my husband moved out two weeks after I was made redundant.  Left with a mortgage, I could have looked for another full-time job, but took the decision to sell up, split the proceeds and use the savings to become self-employed and start my business.

That was more than three years ago and I’ve grown so much, have improved in confidence and learned an incredible amount.  I like who I am and wake up every morning looking forward to working with my clients.1043964_10201469838176661_48724744_n

I had toyed with the idea of using my savings to buy a round the world ticket and travel, when a random internet search revealed pet-sitting sites and there was my solution!  Pet loving owners around the world need someone to care for their pets in their own homes from a few days to months on end.  I’ve started to do this in the UK around my on-site client commitments, but am looking forward to travelling further afield, meeting some fantastic people and exploring the area where they live.

Even if money was no object, I can never imagine not working and in that instance would most probably volunteer, but I’m happy with who I am and where my life and ambition is leading me – what about you?

http://suitcaseentrepreneur.com/blogchallenge/blog-challenge-day2/

doingblogchallenge125x125

Post #34 Winter Swim

This is where Hayley should have been, but there she was – gone!

Pleasley Woods

Entering woods from a different direction, I’d forgotten that this path led to an open glade, complete with a pond.  Hayley hadn’t forgotten – she’s a labrador water diviner – I’m sure her dad must have been a seal, her mum an otter.  As she suffers with hip dysplasia, I tend to keep her away from water in winter, but by the time I reached her, she’d actually broken through a thin layer of ice & done this:

A pond full of logs

Hayley has a mission, she has to rescue any branch or log drowning in the water & will amuse herself for ages retrieving pieces of wood, even submerging her head completely to reach them as they bob under water.  There was a large log that proved particularly difficult as it’s girth was too big for her jaws & all she ended up doing was spinning it round & round. So frustrating 🙂

Winter pond

After a good roll in the grass, she selects her favourite branch from the newly rescued wood pile & patiently carries it back to the car.  She’s never happy to leave it behind, but if brought home, she’d set to & shred the wood into little pieces with her teeth.

Carrying a favourite stick home

We have a routine once home, I have to sit down with Hayley on my lap for the first half hour of her exhaustion, otherwise, she follows me round & won’t settle.

Post #33 Local Panorama

One of my favourite walks close to home is on a former colliery site, now a country park & one of many in the area.  These sites are great for dog walkers & cyclists, but their existence means the mines, industry & employment has gone, which is sad.

These parks have great views as you’re actually walking on the pit tip, the slag heap of waste left behind when the mines were dug out.  There’s little nutrient in the great mounds of grey shale, so only hardy grass & scrubby bushes can survive.  It’s not at all suitable for crops, but sheep often graze & there were some woolly brown ones enjoying the sunshine today.  It was a parky morning, clear & bright but icy cold, frosty underfoot so not too muddy.

Brown Woolly Sheep

I love the evidence of history that can be viewed, a full 360 degree panorama from the top of the hill.  Looking east over the top of my house, there’s at least two coal fired power stations on the horizon – the steam from the cooling towers indicating the direction of the wind.  Moving southwards & focusing a little closer, there’s a small valley with the towers of a former textile mill peeping above the trees.  The cotton mills were initially powered by the river Meden which had cut through the limestone & created the vale.  Later they were steam powered, fueled by coal from the mine, delivered by rail & it’s still possible to walk part of the route.  The old mills have been featured on the Most Haunted programme.

Notts Derbys Border

Moving on, just below the horizon & again higher than the trees of Sherwood Forest, the pair of headstocks from the former Clipstone Colliery can be seen.  The workshops were demolished when the pit closed, but the headstocks left intact as a historical monument, although a local MP now wants the land redeveloped.

Pleasley & Hardwick

Continuing south west & the five modern wind turbines featured in my post #5 can be seen on the horizon – no steam from these clean machines!  Further westwards & Hardwick New Hall nestles above the trees.  A grand Elizabethan house built by Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury – Bess of Hardwick, a magnificent woman who outlived four husbands & amassed their wealth.

Post #31 Good News Stories

I haven’t taken the photos today as I’ve had a busy day working, end of month invoicing for a client.  But there’s two news stories that made me smile over the last couple of days.  People randomly having good luck & possibly coming into large amounts of cash – how absolutely wonderful for them 🙂

A retired couple in Northumberland had been planting pansies in a 2,000 year old Roman coffin for 30 years!  An ornate marble sarcophagus was sat in the garden of the house they bought in 1982 & not listed in the deeds – I wonder if the vendors have watched the news?  It’s apparently almost identical to another Roman sarcophagus in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican & may be worth as much as £100,000 – brilliant!

Sarcophagus

Then today, the news reported a man & his dog had found whale vomit on Morcambe beach, also possibly worth £100k!  The hard lump of ambergris is used in the perfume industry, especially in very high-end scents.  How on earth did anyone discover that fact?

Sperm Whale Vomit - Ambergris

The foul smelling substance is secreted by sperm whales, possibly to protect their intestines from he irritation caused by the beaks of their prey, squid & cuttlefish.  Once vomited, the ambergris can float around in the sea for years, gradually hardening & developing a sweet smell.

Well, I’ve learned two pieces of trivia – what ambergris is used for, & rather morbidly, that sarcophagus means “flesh-eater” in Greek.

Post #30 Eat Your Greens

Most labradors will eat anything, they’re veritable dustbins! My previous golden lab Amber was anybody’s for a strawberry. Strawberries, apple, orange, grapes & any vegetable apart from celery. She was a hoover, nose to the ground snuffling up everything she came across.

2013-01-09 15.18.23

This is a photo of my current lab, Hayley on a walk today. She loves green vegetables & we give her the crunchy centres of cabbage & broccoli stalk, but she won’t eat red veg – red for danger perhaps? Anyway, such is her love of brassicas that here she is, tugging & pulling up the remains straight out of the ground in the field!

2013-01-09 15.19.08

2013-01-09 15.18.32

Post #26 Midnight Snow

Many of my posts have been about the weather & particularly snow!  However, when spending all day in front of the computer working for my clients, other than walking the dogs daily, I don’t always have the opportunity to do much else.  Much like most people I assume?  I enjoy my work & have chosen to be a Virtual Assistant as I’m a good PA, I love being organised, I have a great relationship with my clients & enjoy the variety of my workload.

Snow & Trees

Anyway, back to the daily photo – this is the snow as it was first thing in the morning.  I was actually walking in a snow storm at 2am in the morning which the dogs thought was great!  The light was bright, but I hadn’t taken my camera or phone.  The wind was blowing from the wind turbines (see post #5) & as there was virtually no traffic noise, I could actually hear the whiney, swooshy hum as they turned.  There were a few cars on the road & it was interesting to note that the snow ploughs came along in threes, just like buses 🙂

On the track, I was sheltered from the wind by the bushes either side & thoroughly enjoyed trudging through the virgin snow.  It was so exhilerating – something to knock of my bucket list perhaps?  Having a friend with mobility difficulties who’s slowly progressing towards being permanently wheelchair-bound, I always feel so very grateful when walking, fully appreciating the fact that I can.

Post #25 Snow Dogs

Dogs love snow, it sends them whappy!  Whilst it’s difficult for us to trudge through the drifts, the dogs chase snowballs & each other.

Snow Dogs

There’s always hares on the field where we walk, but they usually ‘hare’ off & are quickly camouflaged.  The dogs half-heartedly run after & then give up.  Today I could see many against the snow at the opposite side of the field which was criss-crossed by their distinctive tracks.  The dogs were snuffling in the scrapes where the hares had rested, revealing the ground underneath.

2013-01-25 08.19.41

After an exhilarating walk, I had a good day, dipping in & out of two or three clients’ work all day, plenty to keep me busy working from home. It’s Friday with more snow forecast & as I write this, it’s already more than an inch deep – more fun for the dogs 🙂

Post #17 Winter Flowers

I hope you can see the delicate blue flowers on this rosemary plant.  The bright sun was behind me casting my shadow onto the pot.

2013-01-13 13.23.41

When I bought the rosemary along with other herbs to plant up together in a big tub, I didn’t know it was one that trails & I love it.  This mini herb garden is in the sunny corner outside my back door, ideally situated to reach out & pluck a few fragrant stems for cooking.  It’s sheltered, but I didn’t expect flowers in winter & happened to notice them on the coldest day of the year.  I’d just come back from a walk in the ice & snow with the dogs, who were fascinated to know why I was on my knees & getting in the way of my shot.  I don’t know how long they’ll last, but they are a delight to see when I go out.

2013-01-13 13.23.59

%d bloggers like this: