Podcasts for windy days

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There’s nothing like cold, windy days for staying inside and pottering about the house while listening to some great podcasts. Here are a few of the ones I’ve been particularly enjoying lately:

  • This beautiful episode about DELIGHT on This American Life and its reminders of how to find joy in all sorts of ways at any age.
  • Really loving learning about all sorts of feminist topics while laughing out loud with The Guilty Feminist – super fun, amazing and inspiring stories!
  • How to fail reframes failure in a lovely way.  It’s a breath of fresh air, especially in vulnerable times, because it reminds me that everyone learns the most and grows by failing, it’s just part of being human.

What have you been listening to lately? Any recommendations?

Cosy times

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #102

Last weekend we spent a lovely, slow-paced weekend with my Mum and her partner who were on a visit to Amsterdam.  I must admit, for many years I wondered why my Mum would systematically come to visit at the end of October, when the wind is icy, the rain always ready to tumble from grey clouds and the days are getting shorter.  But I think I’ve finally understood:)

It’s because with this weather no excuse whatsoever is needed to walk just 200 meters before feeling justified about going into the next cafe and indulging in some delicious cake, and staying cosily indoors while we catch up with each other and discuss possible travel plans for next year.  Also, spending two afternoons in the dark of the cinema, being transported to other worlds through movies, is a totally acceptable pastime and way to keep warm.  It offered the perfect occasion to discover a talented young pianist in the small room of the Concertgebouw and be moved by her stories and music, shielded from the cold outside.  So grateful for these fun moments spent together!

Not listening to the ‘shoulds’

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February in Amsterdam has been sunny but relentlessly cold.  Typically on the weekend I have a lot of ‘shoulds’ popping up, like ‘I should go out for a long walk to get fresh air’ and ‘I should make the most of the sun to take some photos’…  Most of the time that works for me and being outdoors makes me feel great. However in these days the winter now feels like it is dragging on. Despite the days getting longer, the cold feels excruciating and my fingers ache in the freezing air as I try to snap pictures.  So I decided to give myself a break and make it a weekend for lying on the couch with the sun pouring through the window, reading an easy thriller uninterrupted for several hours, and for enjoying fun conversations over a lengthy delicious brunch in a warm cafe. It was perfect!

Wintery details

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Sunday was a gorgeous sunny morning, so I followed my good intentions and went straight out into the cold for a walk. Sometimes when I go to an area where I regularly wander, I lack inspiration for taking pictures.  I often long for new horizons, exciting unknown places as it seems so much easier to be delighted by unfamiliar locations.  So to counter that feeling, I challenged myself on this walk to see things with fresh eyes and to take in what was unique to that particular morning.

Apart from a few people walking their dogs, I was nearly alone in the rose garden in the Vondelpark. The sunrays were barely starting to touch that part of the park and the pathway was slightly slippery with ice. I took my time, as if exploring for the very first time, captivated by the beauty of the ice on the grass and leaves, that started melting away in the sunlight. I was also mesmerised by this tiny yellow rose left over from another season, with its near transparent petals like a delicate pastry.

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Observations from an urban ecosystem

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My balcony overlooks a lovely patchwork of gardens and sheds, belonging to the owners of the appartments on the ground flour. The walls of the building form a large rectangle around the gardens, enclosing this wonderful ecosystem in which birds are the main protagonists, seemingly oblivious to us humans as they go about their business.

Fat turtledoves fly heavily from the railing of one balcony to another, groups of green parrots (who have taken root in Amsterdam) come by from time to time sqwaking loudly, tiny blue tits flit amongst the branches and there’s even a beautiful lone woodpecker who appears from time to time, tapping for bugs in the bark its favorite tree…

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I love how the view on the gardens is constantly changing with the seasons.  Today heavy snow flakes were swirling around in the wind, giving the gardens an enchanted look. The birds took shelter as they could, while the snow gently covered the ground and the branches and it was quieter than usual. So beautiful!