A year of joyful gratitude

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #53

Last week was the 52nd week in a row that I wrote about what I am deeply grateful for in the series I created called JOYFUL GRATITUDE! I really enjoy this ritual and plan to continue looking out for and writing weekly about big and small things that I am I very lucky to experience in my life:)

I decided to look back at these past 52 weeks, and use a lovely spreadsheet to place the things I’m grateful for under broad categories to examine what brings me joy.  The categories that most posts clearly fell under are: Outdoors, Tribe, Food, Quiet time, Travel and Nature. Interestingly most of the posts were a combination of several categories (like enjoying good Food with friends – aka my Tribe).

Outdoors was the clear number one category, a nice reminder of how important it is for me to be out and about despite my rather sedentary lifestyle. I will keep in mind for these winter months that when I feel tempted to profoundly hibernate, actually going out for a brisk walk will do miracles for my mood:)

Click here to check out all the JOYFUL GRATITUDE posts!  What are you grateful for this week??

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Recommended reading

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This weekend, whilst looking online for titles of books written by women to suggest at our next bookclub meeting, I came across this piece DEAR IJEAWELE, OR A FEMINIST MANIFESTO IN FIFTEEN SUGGESTIONS, by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I really enjoy how she writes and particularly liked this piece because it addresses many topics around gender inequality with a fresh perspective and has so many concrete examples.

It’s a long-read but well-worth your time.  I’d say sit comfortably on the sofa with a nice warm cup of tea, and let yourself be carried from one suggestion to the next. These suggestions apply to any human being really and can benefit both men and women.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking is learned. Cooking – domestic work in general – is a life skill that both men and women should ideally have. It is also a skill that can elude both men and women.”

“If we don’t place the straitjacket of gender roles on young children we give them space to reach their full potential. Please see Chizalum as an individual. Not as a girl who should be a certain way. See her weaknesses and her strengths in an individual way. Do not measure her on a scale of what a girl should be. Measure her on a scale of being the best version of herself.”

And after reading the article let it sink in for a while and read it again;)

Whipping up a simple lunch

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #52

One of the perks of working from home is getting to enjoy a warm lunch in Paolo’s pleasant company:) Today it felt particularly nice to take a break from working to whip up a quick lunch consisting of different left-over veggies from our fridge, and then chat peacefully whilst enjoying the meal and a good coffee (there may have been a square or two of dark chocolate too…;)

Something to keep in mind

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This weekend I walked down a road that happened to be blocked and I had to go back the way I came and make a detour to get to my destination. As I retraced my steps, I spotted these lovely small pink flowers growing tightly at the foot of a tree. They made my day!

They were a wise reminder that sometimes in life it seems like you are not going anywhere or you may reach a dead-end and need to back-track, however there is surely something wonderful to be found on the way:) I’ll be looking out for it!

Breaking patterns

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #51

When I think of patterns I usually think of lovely shapes carved repeatedly into a wooden bench or gorgeous detailed drawings replicated over and over on a strip of wall-paper.

Unfortunately patterns are also insidious repeating behaviours that undermine daily happiness and make life unnecessarily complicated and difficult. I’m grateful for the people around me who are helping me become aware of unhealthy patterns in my life.

While this is a good first step, I also realise that now that I see these patterns, the hard work is actually in front of me. In the next weeks and months I want to create new patterns for myself, more adapted to the way I want to experience life, specifically around the topic of setting boundaries. I am looking forward to experimenting…

Sunday bike ride

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I’ve been craving nature recently, wanting to hear branches of large trees swaying in the wind and to smell the rich odors of humid leaves on the forest floor.  At the same time, my energy levels felt low and the thought of catching a train all the way to a place where we could hike just didn’t appeal to me.  So we found an in-between solution, closer to home.

Paolo and I simply wrapped up warmly and headed off on our bikes with no clear direction in mind. After a few random raindrops, the sun came out in earnest as we pedalled away, turning arbitrarily right or left, along roads we’d never been on. It was windy and for most of the ride we could hear the noisy highway, but it was still really lovely to get some fresh air, watch birds on the lake and look at the gorgeous autumn colours:)

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Chestnut delight

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #50

Around here the days are undeniably getting shorter and hibernation season is around the corner. Luckily there are a few autumnal foods to cheer up the dark evenings, like pumpkin (prepared in many different forms – pasta, risotto, soup, pizza…) and a recent discovery that totally hit the spot: chestnuts.

They’re really easy to prepare. We just soak them in water for a couple of hours, dry them with a cloth and cut a slit lengthwise in the round side of the shell. They can then be popped in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes at 240°C. We regularly sneak a peek in the oven to check when they are ready (the shell opens up a little more, showing off the lovely flesh). Then we take them out of the oven, wrap them in a clean cloth for 10mn while they cool. Done!

Then the cloth can be unwrapped to reveal its warm treasures.  It’s such a simple pleasure to chat while we carefully pull the chestnuts from their shell and chew on the sweet, floury texture. Delicious!! I could make this a daily ritual:)

Hidden treat

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #49

I am grateful for the wonderful surprise that Paolo prepared one night this week while I was sound asleep.

I woke up as usual in the morning and while preparing breakfast I vaguely noticed strange details in the kitchen, like the fact that there were lots more dishes drying that I had washed the night before. But I just continued with my morning routine, until I was tipped off by the remains of a lime in the fridge, which had been grated for its zest… That triggered me and I started to look (excitedly!) around the kitchen. Sure enough I found a beautiful apple and pear cake hidden in the oven!

Paolo is a master at this recipe, the cake was absolutely delicious, full of fruit and slightly caramelised. The perfect way to start the day:) Merci!!!

Indian summer

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This Sunday the weather was spectacular: warm and sunny like a spring day.  I had the luxury of spending a few blissful hours sitting outside on a bench, reading a good book, while the lovely sunshine dried my freshly washed hair.  It was the perfect way to recharge my batteries for the upcoming week. Hope it lasts!