JOYFUL GRATITUDE #118
Despite the underlying worry regarding climate change, I’ve been enjoying these precocious Spring-like days that we have had recently. I found myself naturally drawn to walk part of the way home after work, strolling through Amsterdam’s city center, crossing bridges to be sure I was on the side of the canal which the sun shines down. As I go, I like looking at the details of the steps leading up to the fancy houses, peering into the basement offices and shop windows, watching cyclists just avoid tourists stepping unexpectedly onto the bike path to take pictures…
As I move my body after a morning of mostly sitting at the computer, I also start to process what happened during the day on the way. I think of the conversations I had, information received and try to make sense of how I feel about all this busyness and complexity. When I process my thoughts during the day as I take one step after another, I realise I tend to sleep better too. Usually I catch the tram for the last stretch of the way home, and by then I already feel more in touch with my mind and can let go of the work things. The power of walking is incredible:)
Someone did a great job of creating a bushy green jungle to look at from their basement flat!
This weekend with a friend we planned a photo-walk in the neighbourhood of Oud-West. It was like a scavenger hunt with loose rules, we chose some topics to search for and decided to see what we would come across. It was really fun and a great way to get out of my comfort zone, photographing different things than usual, whilst we were chatting and exploring the neighbourhood. Here are some of the highlights:
- While strolling along throughout the afternoon, several locals started talking to us. Like the lady who told us about the beautiful mosaic hopscotch below and how she had made it with her daughter. She told us that kids often play on it, as well as adults and that it brings a lovely vibe to the sidewalk in front of her house. (In passing, I learnt the Dutch word for hopscotch: hinkelen!)
- It made me regain some faith in humankind. This is linked to the point above, people are friendly, eager to connect and busy with nice itiatives. For example, this little table with cherries and cool water was set up in the context of an ‘open gardens day’ by a lady who told us all about how she planted many flowers to beautify this little square which she takes care of herself.
- I was amazed by how many things I noticed. Even though I had cycled down many of the streets before, walking allowed me to see the neighbourhood in a whole new light. Also being on the lookout for interesting things to photograph made us more alert. We spotted new cafes and restaurants, shops and even this hairy caterpillar with its amazing yellow crests that was methodically chomping away at this leaf.
- My curiosity was sparked by things we came across and I even learnt some new things. On seeing this mural, we pondered whether this gentleman was a mathematician… as one of the topics we were hunting for was ‘mathematical object’. When I got home, I googled it and found out it is Huygens, who was indeed a mathematician, physicist and astronomer.
I also looked up what type of butterfly would emerge from such a peculiar caterpillar and actually it is a moth – the Tussock moth. It turns out there are lots of different Tussock moth caterpillars, all rather hairy and in different colour palettes.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #78
On Tuesday I got up a little earlier than usual to join a yoga session organised by a colleague on the rooftop of our office before starting work. I count this as one of my favorite yoga lessons of all times! It was wonderful to be outdoors in the sunshine, overlooking the city, and I entered my work day feeling so much more relaxed and grounded than usual.
As our office is just next to Amsterdam Central station, our rooftop is not the quietest of locations, but actually the screeching of the train brakes on the railway tracks and the sound of traffic driving below contributed to the unique atmosphere. The nudge of the gentle breeze helped me to push through the discomfort of the downward-facing dogs, and it was pure pleasure to feel the sun warming my skin as we stretched.
While in warrior pose, focussing on the horizon over the the river Ij towards the North and then looking over rooftops and church spires towards the South, I felt intense gratitude that I get to live in this beautiful city.