JOYFUL GRATITUDE #141
This week in the midst of a stomach bug, the general messiness of life and work tension, Paolo had the brilliant idea that we look out for shooting stars one evening, since it is the season for them.
So there we stood on the balcony wearing our jackets and breathing in the cool air in the dark, heads tilted upwards, scanning the sky until my eyes got dry from not blinking and my feet got cold, surrounded by the soft sound of drops from an earlier rainshower rolling off from the trees into the gardens below.
We gazed out above the rooftops full of hope regardless of the light pollution of Amsterdam. We scouted optimistically despite the passing whisps of clouds obscuring the few stars we could see. We sometimes remained in silence and other moments we talked. Twice we were rewarded by the appearance of a bright shooting star! The shared joy of both catching a fleeting glance of bright travelling light was magical.
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”
This quote from Mary Oliver’s poem “Sometimes” is one that often get shared. I like its simplicity and straightforwardness considering the vastness of the scope (it would be hard to be so direct for something as small as how to install wifi on your phone). It works for me, I am repeating it to myself, trying to be mindful and to follow the instructions…
It’s my reminder to be in the moment, with a beginner’s mind that allows itself to be astonished at whatever catches its attention and to share it. For example, look at these flowers I saw at the Botanical Garden. Don’t they look a little like tall hats? And how gorgeous is the winding stem holding them together with its copper green tint? Just beautiful:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #140
This week I spent a day with my colleagues on an organic dairy farm. It was a welcome break from the usual grind in the office. Literally, a breath of fresh air… including the potent smell of dung of course (though I noticed you get used to it surprisingly fast:).
In the course of an afternoon we experienced rounding up the 46 cows from a field down the road and escorting them to the barn where we helped (a bit:) with the milking. The cows are beautiful, huge with shining fur and it’s funny to see they have different characters, they know what they like and don’t like, and are very human-like.
Even if this experience just scratched the surface, it was eye-opening for me as a city-girl to realise how relentless this lifestyle is (having to make sure the cows are milked twice a day no matter what, going through the motions with each individual cow, keeping the milking space as hygienic as possible, checking how each cow is doing…).
I suggested we should do team outings like this regularly, to be more in touch with where our food is coming from and what the life of a farmer is like, even if it is just a glimpse, to avoid romanticising it or ignoring the difficulties.
I’m grateful to have a chance to get out of my urban bubble and learn a lot in a day. Even though I realise that dairy farming has a huge negative environmental impact and should be reduced, I appreciate that there are farmers trying to do so on a small scale, organically and with deep respect of the animals, and the hard work that goes into producing each glass of organic milk. Next time I hope we go to an organic veggie farm:)
Just back from holidays. The kind of holidays that are basically just sleeping in, reading, eating good food, taking naps without setting an alarm clock. The kind of holidays that I actually come home rested and recharged from, having watched the tide come in high and retreat over hundreds of meters, having spent fun moments with my family, having breathed in the salty air of the sea, having been cleansed by strong winds whipping fine sand onto my calves, having strolled slowly back and forth along the shoreline my bare feet sinking into the wet sand, processing my thoughts and searching for colourful seashells…
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #139
Last weekend I got to spend quality time with one of my sisters and with different friends, people who I had seen recently and not so recently, catching up and talking about all sorts of things, enjoying good food and good talks about our lives, how the world is and how we’d like it to be…
As an introvert I find myself both drained and recharged from such interactions. Aferwards I feel tired and have a deep need to have time to myself, where I usually just potter around the flat, read, journal or do nothing, and basically in that quiet space I’m processing all we discussed and the emotions of being together. I feel deeply grateful to have such fun and inspiring people around me, who take me as I am, who I can laugh and be real with and who encourage me to step even deeper into what lights me up.
If you are looking for an uplifting and beautifully made documentary, I highly recommend going to the cinema to see The Biggest Little Farm on a large screen. The story-telling is fantastic, taking spectators along on the journey and showing through stunning imagery how ecosystems work and how all of nature is interconnected.
Seeing the beauty of a deeply healthy farm made me wonder how we strayed so far away from a system that can regulate itself, and this film is an inspiring example of how nature can bounce back relatively quickly given the right conditions. And if all that is not enough… there are adorable piglets!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #138
One of the things I like about Sicily are these little 3-wheel trucks that come to town laden with fruit and veggies, park on a square in front of a church or by the local bookstore and sell their produce to passers-by. I love the spontaneity of it, the handwritten signs and the feeling of abundance created by the colourful crates of fruit.
While we were in Sicily last month, we went for a hike on Mount Etna, accompanied by Pippo, a local guide who’s been exploring Etna for the last 50 years and told us lots of facts and stories about the volcano he’s passionate about.
We didn’t go to the main crater, but rather avoided the crowds on a much more quiet route on the South Eastern slope. The views were breathtaking as we hiked along the crest of the Valle del Bove, a huge valley which was filled with lava of the 1991 erruption and is still the recipient for more recent lava trails. You can see on the picture the darker lava trails from the latest erruption mid-June.
The photos cannot really capture how enormous the valley is, a gigantic bowl catching the lava and protecting the villages and towns further down. The lava field is entirely barren with no plants growing on it, a huge dark moon-like surface, but on our path, above the valley there was plenty of life.
It was a beautiful walk, with changing landscapes, incredible rock formations, and lots of plants that somehow manage to take root in the volcanic soil and survive under the blazing sun. As we walked we were surrounded by butterflies and thousands of bees, buzzing frenetically around the flowers.
As we made our way along the path that was sometimes marked just with a piece of red ribbon, the views on both sides of the crest evolved, always wild and spectacular… It left me wanting to return and explore more.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #137
Last night we went to see the Three Musketeers at the Amsterdamse Bos Theater, a lovely outdoor theater nestled amongst the tall trees of the forest. I love that to reach it you cycle away from the city center where most theaters are and instead head into nature.
As we pedalled along the water we passed a dignified heron who was watching the world go by while standing on one leg. After a busy week, it felt like a real treat to let myself be carried along by the story, laugh at the jokes and disconnect completely for a few hours as we sat surrounded by trees and clear sky, as night slowly fell over us.