JOYFUL GRATITUDE #70
While I was in Brighton my camera stopped working. I’ve grown attached to this camera as I’ve learnt to use it better over the last 6 years and it has travelled with me on adventures near and far. In this age of planned obsolescence, I was worried I’d have to invest in a new one, when ideally I want to keep it for as long as possible, until it really can’t be fixed.
Thanks to Paolo, I discovered there is a shop 5 minutes from our place that repairs cameras. They were professional and instead of encouraging me to spend money on a new camera body, they took my request for repair seriously and fixed it for me at a really good price. I am really grateful to have my dear camera back and hopefully it will accompany me on my neighbourhood walks and my travels afar for many more years:)
*The amazing colour palette of the cabins by the beach
*Amazing cakes. I love that most cafés have home-made cakes. There were so many different types, leading to serious dilemmas on what to choose (and the risk of overdosing on sticky toffee pudding… but that’s another story)
*Waking up to the sound of the seagulls. Whether it was raining or shining, there was no denying that we were close to the seaside
*Walking on the beach, accompanied by the sound of the waves, no matter what the weather
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #69
In Brighton, we enjoyed long walks along the beach, each step keeping us firmly in the present with the crunch of the pebbles, the cold sea wind on our cheeks, the waves crashing over and over again on the shore… We looked for pretty stones until our pockets bulged with their imperfect shapes and their fascinating greys, oranges and blues. After a cloudy day, the sun came out, illuminating the abandoned pier with its last rays. It was good to be reminded how deeply healing being by the beach, no matter the season.
Woke up last Wednesday to find it was snowing! The streets were beautiful and so quiet, with the snow padding every sound. Instead of rushing to work like I normally do, I took my time and walked one stop further to catch the tram in order to have a peaceful moment before my busy day in the office.
On my way home I did the same. Despite the freezing wind, I got off the tram and went for a quick walk in my neighbourhood, watching the sunset with its warm colours overtaking the sky. I’m feeling deeply grateful for these moments appreciating nature’s beauty.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #68
Long weekends are the best! Heading off to Brighton with my dear friend Eva, a few days to breathe in the sea breeze and take the time to get to know the city. I last went during my student days when I lived in London (over 15 years ago… what??!!!) so I’m really looking forward to (re)discovering it. So far our plans include perhaps going for a hike if the weather isn’t too cold, but we’ll settle for spending our days in bookstores, museums or cafés with tea and scones if we really must;)
February in Amsterdam has been sunny but relentlessly cold. Typically on the weekend I have a lot of ‘shoulds’ popping up, like ‘I should go out for a long walk to get fresh air’ and ‘I should make the most of the sun to take some photos’… Most of the time that works for me and being outdoors makes me feel great. However in these days the winter now feels like it is dragging on. Despite the days getting longer, the cold feels excruciating and my fingers ache in the freezing air as I try to snap pictures. So I decided to give myself a break and make it a weekend for lying on the couch with the sun pouring through the window, reading an easy thriller uninterrupted for several hours, and for enjoying fun conversations over a lengthy delicious brunch in a warm cafe. It was perfect!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #67
Today I witnessed my sister Helena’s Master graduation from the University of Amsterdam in Social and Cultural Anthropology. It was an intimate ceremony where her supervisor spoke about the experience of accompanying her along the journey of writing her thesis about young women practising casual sex in Taiwan. Helena received lots of well-deserved compliments about her research, the quality of her writing style and the deep respect she shows for her participants.
I was lucky to be alongside Helena throughout her Master, as she stayed on our couch regularly, always arriving just on time for dinner and bringing her curiosity, her jokes and her good mood to our home. As we cooked tasty meals, we had conversations on all sorts of topics ranging from feminism to the latest series we love to watch, from travel stories to the particularities of the naked mole rat… I am super grateful that we could spend all this time together:)
Things I’ve noticed since the start of my mindfulness course:
- It’s much easier to watch Narcos for 45 minutes than to carve out those same 45 minutes for a daily body scan meditation (and at the end of the body scan I never think to myself ‘just one more’!)
- Pausing instead of reacting like I normally do has positive effects on me and my communication with others.
- I spend a huge amount of my days on autopilot, just going through the motions without stopping to think about what I am doing. When I do stop and breathe, it seems increasingly absurd.
- Being more mindful has made me more aware of how I race from one thing to the next and how fast others around me are rushing. I deeply believe we could all benefit from slowing down and I’m committed to starting with myself. I’ve reduced my working hours to 80% and am consciously trying to BE more and DO less. Let’s see how it goes!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #66
Last weekend, though it was freezing cold, I couldn’t resist the beautiful sunshine so I took a long walk to get some fresh air and vitamin D. I headed to my favorite place by the water, an area in my neighbourhood which I appreciate no matter the season (I’ve written about it here and here :).
This time I was enchanted by this intriguing sight. I absolutely love how this flock of seagulls seem to have each chosen their own post and then faced the sun at the exactly the same angle, standing very still and basking in the light in such an orderly manner. Birds will never cease to amaze me!
In the first days of the new year, I was visiting my boyfriend’s family in Rome and we decided to look for an excursion a little further afield that was easily accessible by public transport. We chose Orvieto, a fortified town on the top of a massive rock.
Stepping off the train it was grey and misty, but as we rode up the hill in the cable car we pierced the clouds and at the top, from the walls of the fortress, we found ourselves overlooking the most beautiful sea of clouds over the valley.
There is an amazing cathedral with incredible patterns and dizzy-making columns on the facade. Once inside, we pretended to be part of an organised group and tagged along to listen to the explanations of their very knowledgeable guide who was pointing out the stories and details of the frescoes that made them come alive. Some of the paintings seem like they came straight out of a science-fiction scene including lasers and 3D effects.
Orvieto is a small town and I was glad to be visiting it off-season (despite the biting cold) as I can imagine it can get swamped with hordes of tourists in the summer. I particularly enjoyed exploring the winding streets a little outside the touristy center, looking at the details of the old stone houses overlooking the valley and imagining what must have been like to live there in the past.
How to get there by public transport: take the train from Rome to Orvieto station (approx. 1 hour), then simply cross the street where you can buy a ticket to get on the cable car that will take you right up the hill (it leaves every 10 minutes).