Mindful walk

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #62

I have lots of good intentions about going for a walk first thing in the morning when I’m not rushing to work, but for some reason I resist them fiercely.  Though I know it would be good for me to begin the day by moving my body, getting some fresh air and being in touch with the elements, somehow I usually come up with all sorts of things that need doing before I head out.

However today the sun was beckoning after yesterday’s windy storm, so before starting anything else I just put on my shoes and left the house.

I had a beautiful walk. It felt so great to be outside and take my time, with no specific destination in mind, my only goal being to try and walk on the sunny side of the street as much as possible. The cold woke me up and I enjoyed looking at the sun playing hide and seek in passing clouds. To be present and not get too lost in my thoughts, I focussed on small things that caught my eye, like the unusual beauty in a colourful lichen or branches of a willow tree gently knotted together…

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Spotting details in the streets of Rome

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Whilst wandering the streets of Rome and other cities in Italy, I love to look at the details of the shopfronts which look so different to the ones in Amsterdam. Some of them have clearly remained unchanged for decades, with their amazing old-school fonts, diluted colours and paint slowly chipping off.

To me it actually gives these shops a certain charm and I wonder whether inside they are still working according to the more humane rhythm of those long-gone eras… Here are a few of my favorites from my last trip.

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Luxury is a state of mind

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #61

I am excited about the pile of new books on my dresser that are waiting to be read and the fact that it’s weekend, meaning I have plenty of free time to laze about in pyjamas with a delicious cup of tea and can delve uninterrupted into the worlds between their pages!

Gentle alignment

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I’m back home after this wonderful escapade to France and Italy, and I feel like I’ve been away for ages though it’s only been 2 weeks. It’s a pleasure to be back in the flat that smells like natural soap and find that all my plants have survived perfectly despite the cold. I feel energised and inspired. Being away and seeing new horizons has taken my mind off the day-to-day and it feels like new spaces have opened up in my mind. I can hear more clearly that small voice saying “I want more exploration and curiosity, less stress, more adventures, more creativity and connection with those dearest to me”.

Every year for the past 5 years (or maybe even more??) I’ve chosen a word to guide and inspire me throughout the year. After my 2017 epiphany, I’ve realised one word may be too vague, so this year I’ve decided to experiment with a couple of words to see if that helps:)  My guiding words for 2018 are GENTLE ALIGNMENT. What exactly that will look like, I don’t yet know… All I can say is I hope to make tiny steps and adjustments so every day I can find inspiration from all different sources, as well as many laughs and fun and sparks of joy!

What word(s) will guide you in 2018??

Recharging my batteries

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #60

I am so glad to have taken this week off work. January does not seem like the ideal time as it is cold and the days are short, but actually for me this feels like a deeply needed re-set before the year starts in full again. Free time is so precious and it is a real pleasure to have time to switch off completely. I feel like I’m filling the well little by little and my batteries are recharging.

It’s funny how a few days feel much longer being away from our daily routine. These days have been a perfect blend of relaxing, creating new memories and laughing with friends and family,  enjoying going to the theater and being inspired by art, exploring local places by foot in the sunshine and going further afield to discover a medieval village above the clouds…

A fresh new year

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First day of a fresh new year. I’ve spent the holidays reflecting on the past year, on how fast it flew by and how much happened, what I liked and what I want to change moving forward.

I’ve been scribbling down an endless list of wonderful things I want to focus on and do in 2018 and beyond. I’ve been making these lists for years (at any moment, not just at the years end) and when I pull them out years later I’m always amazed at how much of the things on those lists actually happened – maybe not immediately but surely over time, either by changing habits or consciously taking steps towards making them a reality, or by what seems like sheer luck:)  2018 bring on your magic!!

Looking ahead and dreaming big

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #59

These days I’m enjoying spending time with my family. Having a bit more than just a couple of days together means we can do more than just scratch the surface on how we are all doing and what is keeping us occupied. Over many lengthy meals, cups of tea and pieces of homemade cake, we’re slowly getting past the talk of day to day topics to deeper conversations, and that’s where it gets more interesting and I feel like we really connect.

With my Mum and sisters, we spent a really fun afternoon of art and collage around the kitchen table to manifest all the wonderful things that we would like to call into our lives for 2018. Then over breakfast we were making grand plans to travel together for 2019. It is in these quiet times that there is space to dream big. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring us!

Grow sustainably

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At the start of every year I choose a word to guide me throughout the next 12 months and encourage the universe to send vibes relating to that word my way. Beginning of 2017 the word I chose was GROW. I was imagining the universe sending me gentle nudges to get out of my comfort zone, try new things and become a better version of myself…

Instead, I was reminded to be careful what I wish for… as the universe delivered big time and gave me many opportunities to grow. Amongst others, the task of being the celebrant at the wedding of two dear friends in Thailand, and a challenging new position at work that never seems to ease up. This year I’ve felt stretched way beyond expectations, often exhausted by work and the ‘growing pains’ were sometimes intense. At the same time I appreciate how much I’ve grown my comfort zone, and I’m proud of having done things I could never imagine daring to do.

At our Christmas lunch, I was having a chat with some colleagues about what their word for next year could be. It was beautiful to hear what they were thinking of choosing, a lovely way to get to know them better over a slice of kerstbrood. As a cautionary tale, I told them about what my word for 2017 had been and how I sometimes experienced it as grueling.  One of my colleagues cheerily suggested that I should simply have added the word SUSTAINABLY behind GROW.  (I was flabbergasted! How did I not think of that myself??! It could be that easy. It was a total moment of reframing for me.) He then proceeded to explain how trees in the forest grow very slowly under the canopy and in that way they become strong. If they develop too fast, ever reaching upwards for the light, they are thinner, weaker and less healthy in the long run.

At this year end, I feel like a little sappling who strived to grow no matter what, without growing sustainably. So during these holidays, while I’m taking the time to reflect on the past 12 months and thinking about my word for next year, I’ll keep in mind the power of words and intention. I haven’t chosen my word for 2018 yet, but it may turn out to be 2 or 3 words to be a little more specific on where my focus will be:)

Hooray, it’s the holidays!

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #58

After a frantic end of the year trying to finish off as much as possible at work, the holidays have finally arrived:) I am so glad to have some time off to enjoy the important things in life. These include but are not limited to having time to catch up with my family around chocolate cake and tea, while planning the menus for the coming festivities; hunting around our garden for intriguing and beautiful plants to photograph; reading magazines and looking through the art books on my Mum’s coffee table… Free time feels like such a luxury.

How-to for a day of extreme self-care

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  1. Make sure to have no plans whatsoever. Nothing on the agenda. No-one to meet with.
  2. Go for a walk after breakfast. Soak up the rays of winter sun, stock up on precious vitamine D. Breathe in the fresh air. Enjoy exploring the familiar paths of your neighbourhood.
  3. Look for some nice plants to photograph. Feel your fingers get cold as you take pictures without gloves on.
  4. Pass by the little free library down the road. Pick up a book or two that catch your fancy.
  5. When it starts raining, rush home.  Enjoy the excuse to stay indoors. Use the quiet time to journal and process your thoughts. Listen to the voice of your intuition.
  6. Spend the rest of the afternoon reading peacefully on the sofa while sipping fresh ginger tea.
  7. Have a delicious dinner of left-overs.
  8. Read some more.
  9. Go to sleep early.
  10. Repeat:)

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