Tiny pineapples

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #79

Just a short post to celebrate this branch that looks like it has tiny little pineapples growing on the end of it.  As we took a long walk through the dunes, there were hundreds of these bushes, with their surprising details, growing alongside the path.

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For more ‘things that look like other things’, check out these tiny succulents having a party:)

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Squeaky-clean windows

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #77

This morning when I sat down to enjoy a delicious croissant bought at the French bakery on my early morning walk, the sun was pouring through the kitchen windows. This would have been lovely except for the fact that the windows were really dirty, covered in dust accumulated from the long rainy winter.  It’s not like it was the first time I’d noticed this… I’d just been procrastinating. However this morning, after my leisurely breaky, I unexpectedly felt like it was the right moment to give them a clean.

Armed with my environmentally friendly window cleaning equipment (aka warm water mixed with vinegar and a couple of old newspapers), I washed off all the layers of grit with a cloth and dried the windows with balled up newspaper.  So easy and satisfying, it’s amazing what a difference it makes. Squeaky-clean windows make me so happy and the view of the gardens in the courtyard is just that little bit crisper:)

After-dinner walks

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #76

I love this time of year when the evenings are getting longer, with beautiful light lingering later and later, allowing for after-dinner walks in the neighbourhood. It’s amazing how much good a short walk will do to clear my mind and boost my mood after a busy day at work.  I know this, however on automatic pilot at the end of the day to relax I will mostly just sit at the computer or on the sofa with a book, rather than go and get some fresh air.

Since I am noticing this, I would like to change this habit and make a conscious attempt to go for a stroll after dinner more often, however brief. I know it is always worth the effort of putting my shoes back on, leaving the dishes un-done and heading out.  On a recent post-dinner walk, I enjoyed watching a small brown puppy excitedly running in the evening light, took the time to observe the fresh new leaves growing in people’s gardens and even saw a gorgeous sunset…

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For previous evening walk adventures see: magic hour bird watching and spotting the perfect hideaway.

 

An interesting read

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #75

Today let me share this article that I really enjoyed reading this week and basically put words on what I often feel. Every time I have a tough time at work or something is bothering me, I have a tendency to daydream about taking a sabbatical and exploring far away lands imagining that that would solve all my problems;) Of course I love traveling and will continue to do so, however on a day-to-day basis I want to make sure I remember the concept of ‘the box of daily experience’ and improving the way I experience it, since this is much more accessible and rewarding than constant travel.

Writing JOYFUL GRATITUDE has definitely helped my box of daily experience feel fluffier, as I regularly pay more attention to the things that are readily available such as

Succulent inspiration

 

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #74

Nothing like a quiet Friday afternoon in the Botanic Garden to slow down and bring my attention fully back to the present moment. I am grateful that my dear friend Eva joined me today (we have a history of visiting other botanic gardens together, spending hours exploring the Hortus which is just around the corner of her house in Leiden and also on a trip to Glasgow:).

We had a great time in the warm green-houses, observing the succulents, cacti and other plants, pointing out to each other many amazing details from the wide collection and getting inspired by the colours and patterns.

Family time

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #73

I am grateful for having had the luxury of a long weekend at home in France to recharge my batteries.  It was a pleasure to catch up with my family, chatting and laughing while enjoying delicious meals, a fusion of slow cooked French traditional dishes alongside Lebanese delicacies.  Cakes were abundant as always, as well as Easter treats in many forms (including an unexpected chocolate clam!).

Not everything revolved around food though, we also soothed our mind with some lovely spontaneous meditation sessions, lying side by side on our mats, our heads supported by lavender filled cushions as we did our best to focus on the guided body scan. It was particularly fun to debrief afterwards and compare our experiences:)

Cooking together

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #72

So glad to start the long Easter weekend early.  In the few hours since I arrived home in France a rhubarb crumble has been baked by my mum (filling the kitchen with the delicious smell of butter) and a huge pot of vegetarian bolognese sauce is now simmering away on the stove (the result of a team effort of mindful vegetable washing and chopping, whilst chatting away, laughing and catching up on each others lives in the past weeks:)

Mindful commute

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #71

This week in our meditation course, we made a list of our daily routine activities and were asked to indicate which ones we find depleting and which ones nourishing. A very interesting exercise, especially because many of those activities turned out to be depleting on one day or nourishing on another, depending on circumstances or state of mind.

An example for me is cycling to work. Being within cycling distance of work is part of the life choices I’ve made, and I am so grateful to be able to do so.  I particularly love the 10 minutes of the ride through Vondelpark.   As I cycle through the park, I find myself tuning in to admire the frost on the grass, focus on how the slanted rays of sunshine come through the trees, spot the storks that have come back to nest and feeling the fresh air on my face as I pedal along.

However some days I am less in tune to the nourishing side of my commute than others. When it is extremely cold, raining cats and dogs or simply still dark, I often find it hard to enjoy the ride and focus mainly on getting to my destination. Also, part of my commute involves riding through the city center with lots of traffic, not to mention the major road works that have been going on outside our office for 6 months. I experience that part as loud and stressful, and very depleting. My challenge is to be more mindful in this part of the ride and to accept being in that moment, instead of wishing it was different. Let’s see how that goes!

Repair in the time of planned obsolescence

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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:)

Healing walks on the beach

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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.

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