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two hilarious chapters from my new book..

Life Begins At Fifty - The Book
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Amanda Owen Shepherdess

Have you ever felt as if your life is just one long tread-mill? Emails, smart phones, computers…on and on and on? Oh, if only you could go back in time, to a place where life was simple, uncomplicated. Down on the farm, for example, feeding baby lambs, riding ponies, walking in the fields, letting the sun shine on your face.

Amanda Owen is a 41-year-old shepherdess with no less than 8 children (gulp!) and a lovely husband, 20 years her senior, who seems blissfully unaware of how on earth it happened, but is obviously as happy as Larry with his large crew. In fact, a recent photograph of the whole family peeking over a dry stone wall looks like something out of the Darling Buds of May – lots of happy, smiling faces, tousled hair and rosy cheeks.

Amanda is something of a superwoman in the nicest possible sense of the word. She seems to pop babies out every 15 months like frozen peas, and, apart from looking after her ever-growing family, which ranges from 10 months to 15 years (and with another one on the way!) she and her husband look after 1000 sheep, hundreds of lambs, 40 cows, 2 pigs, dozens of chickens, 3 dogs and a peacock.

Just as I’m metaphorically wiping the sweat of my brow, I realise that she also runs a holiday let, makes cream teas for passing walkers, does the farm accounts and has just written her second book, ‘A Year in the Life of a Yorkshire Shepherdess’. I’m ready for a lie down just reading about her achievements.

At 6’2” she could have been a model, like her mother, (and admits that she still puts on lipstick, eyeliner and mascara at 6.00am every morning,) but, instead, inspired by James Herriot, she followed her dream and became a freelance farmhand and apprentice shepherdess.

So, instead of world travel, Chanel handbags, a waspish waist and perfect make-up, she chose her husband, Clive, her wonderful brood of children, animals, nature, fresh air and creativity. And she’s as happy as a pig in muck!

She admits that living out in rural Swaledale is not all plain sailing – it’s miles from anywhere and they experience extremely harsh winters – but the fact that her children spend most of their time riding pones and swimming in nearby rivers, rather than on iPads makes her really content.

When she declared, ‘Last year we all went to Darlington Christmas shopping, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. But when we got there, we realised we didn’t need anything,’ it brought a tear to my eye. That, to me, is living the dream…to think that you have all that you have ever wanted right there in your life, day after glorious day.

I’m a great believer in following your dream, whether that involves having a better work/life balance, finding your soul mate, working in your dream job…or in my case travelling round the world for six months.

But, how often do we really sit down and think about what we really want out of life? How often do we make that bucket list and make a real effort to tick things off? How often do we think about the consequences if we don’t?

Don’t wait until you’re too old, too ill or too infirm to do the things you really, really want to do. Stop waiting for that rainy day that never comes! No more excuses! Take a leaf out of Amanda’s book and just do it! Follow your dream and see where it takes you. Otherwise you might just live to regret it.


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