JOYFUL GRATITUDE #210
Last weekend I took a little walk near Amsterdam Zuid station. Despite the biting cold and a short rain-shower here and there, the plants seemed keen on showing off their fresh beauty as I made my way around. It was so bountiful, with dashes of unexpected colour calling out for my attention every few steps.
A tiny magnolia tree in front of a brick wall (the shape of its unopened flowers reminiscent of the claws that my cat Villanelle is so determined to sink into my flesh when she sits on my lap to cuddle.)
The rugged green petals of an intriguing tulip, ready to unfurl.
The pink exterior of a bud just about to reveal its fresh green leaves.
A flush orange bush with tiny popcorn puff flowers.
The deep shiny green of these leaves wrapped so beautifully around each other.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #207
On the last day of 2020, I took a long solo walk in the Amsterdamse Bos. It was a calm sunny morning and I wanted to be outside and feel the cold air on my cheeks as I reflected about the crazy year that was coming to an end. The path I chose to walk down was a bit muddy at the start which I guess discouraged other walkers and so I was alone nearly the whole time, accompanied just by birds singing and fluttering from branch to branch. As I strolled along slowly, it turned out to be a treasure trove of gorgeous winter details. I especially fell in love with this beautiful purple colour – also to be found on the photo on my last post. I will never tire of the unexpected colourful details to be found in the forest and the joy of observing nature as it moves through the seasons.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #181
The Artist’s Way is a book I dive into regularly because of Julia Cameron’s deep wisdom (and humour!). Recently I pulled it off the shelf and opened it at a random chapter as I often do, knowing it would provide me just the nugget of guidance I need. This time I landed on the chapter about ABUNDANCE, which made me laugh because I’ve also been pulling that word lately from my tiny pack of Angel cards… Clearly this is something for me to focus on at the moment;)
Interestingly some of the exercises from the chapter are about getting rid of things around the house. I always need to get over that little voice in my head that whispers that I may need it later, the one that is scared I won’t have ENOUGH. It seems counter-intuitive at first to give away things to feel abundance. But there’s a reason why I’m not wearing the t-shirt or why my heart is telling me it’s fine to let go of some object I have lying around for years that I didn’t even choose myself.
Seeing the happy look on the face of someone who comes over to pick-up a second-hand purchase is always a pleasure. I can tell they will appreciate the object so much more than I do and it avoids one new item being put out into the world. Also, after depositing several back-pack loads of books at the little free library, my bookshelves are lighter and more ‘me’.
Parting with all these objects has highlighted that I have more than enough, and as an added bonus, this clearing has created space for a few new things, chosen with care. This week I treated myself to new washi tapes, finally replenishing my collection which had dwindled to with quasi-finished rolls and dark colours. I splashed out on the good quality ones with beautiful patterns and bright colours like neon pink, enough to decorate my journal and my snail mail for a long time ahead and I felt like I was spoiling myself in the best of ways:)
I went for a long walk this afternoon to stretch my legs and clear my head. As I watched a small sailing boat on the water, I breathed in, deeply enjoying the comforting warmth of the sun on my black jeans.
Bordering the path, lots of delicate wild flowers, white, yellow, blue and pink danced in the wind. I carefully picked a stem here and a piece of grass there, risking the tingle of a nettle sting on my pinky, and came home with a small bouquet to brighten up my kitchen table. An unruly and joyful explosion of colour to keep me company as I eat my meals over the next days:)
Late this autumn, I planted some mixed seeds into the soil of the empty looking pots on my balcony, and to my surprise some these lovely orange flowers came up. I can see them every day, through the glass of the balcony door when I sit at the kitchen table. Their hardiness and bright colour have been giving me so much joy in past weeks.
Normally the petals reach straight outwards from the center, but recently, maybe because of the cold, they started curling slightly, making the flower even more beautiful. One morning last week I decided it was ok to miss the usual tram I take to work, to spend a few quiet moments to photograph its fleeting charm in the first rays of daylight. So glad I did!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #133
Poppy season has arrived bringing flimsy stems and light petals, splashes of bright colours around the city. I cycle past a lovely field of bright red amongst other wild flowers on my commute through the Vondelpark, there is a lone poppy poking out from a crack on the sidewalk where I park my bike at the office, resilient to all the people passing it by, and then there are the gorgeous yellow poppies growing at the Botanical garden in Zuid… So grateful for these joyful reminders of fragile beauty!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #88
Last week I came across this TED talk which I really enjoyed. It put into words what I have intuitively felt and developped with this blog: how paying attention to beautiful, colourful things around us brings joy and can make such a difference to how we feel.
Photographing beautiful plants and colours is something that I am spontaneously drawn to and where I find myself in flow, so it was interesting also to realise that certain things are universally joyful and understand the reasons why. It also shed some light on why the bright colours of the buildings in Lisbon bring me so much joy:)
Check out the TED playlists, such as How to notice and build joy into your life, for wise words and inspiration…
Yellow is a colour that lifts my heart up. I painted one of my kitchen walls bright yellow wall to brighten up the long Dutch winter evenings by reminding me of the sun.
Lately I’m really enjoying how yellow flowers are popping up all over the place in gardens and along the streets of Amsterdam.
On a recent walk in the Kennemerduinen, the pastel landscape was peppered with splashes of yellow, gorgeous gatherings of tiny flowers asking for their beauty to be seen.
Also the bees and the caterpillars were also showing off how colour coordinated they were with their beautiful surroundings:)