Evening mist

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #134

Yesterday as I was cycling leisurely home from my boxing class just before 10pm, it was still daylight and the Vondelpark was bathed in the soft light of the magic hour… and an incredible mist started rising mysteriously over the wide open grass spaces and the water of the lakes.  It was a breathtaking sight. So grateful to have been there to witness it:)

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!

Fresh air

 

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #47

There is nothing like a leisurely bike ride on a windy Sunday morning to feel fresh and relaxed. The sky couldn’t seem to make up its mind whether to stay cloudy or let the sun come out but at least it wasn’t raining.

It was wonderful to have time to stop and observe.  For a while I watched a bunch of white sails from small boats leaving the harbour, shooting across the water, sometimes nearly horizontal from the force of the gale.  And on the way home I was lucky to come across these lovely plants swaying in the wind and shimmering beautifully in the sun light. So gorgeous!

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Cycling around Bang Krachao

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While researching what to do in Bangkok I had read about Bang Krachao, a “smog-free, government-protected oasis of green on the mighty Chao Phraya River”.  It sounded like the perfect place to get some rest from the bustling city, so one morning I made my way to the pier in the south of Bangkok and took the boat across the river with many motor bikes and a few pedestrians. On arrival, I rented this wonderful red bike, and was handed a basic photocopied black and white A4 map.

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Loving the sensation of freedom of being on a bike, I pedalled away enthusiastically and promptly lost my way. Most roads looked identical and they had the same name, being distinguished only by a number. Soon my sweaty map made all details  completely illegible and was no use at all.

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So after a while I gave up trying to figure out where I was and just rode around aimlessly, enjoying whatever I discovered on my way. There are these concrete paths which allow you to cycle through the mangrove.  Going at a slow pace in order not to inadvertently ride off the edge into the water and mud, it was a great way to soak up the atmosphere.

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I spent a great day watching local people going about their daily tasks, passing many colourful temples and enjoying having lots of time to observe all the details of the plants and butterflies.

Cycling in the mornings

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #6

These days cycling to work every morning involves leaving home in the dark and feeling that despite wearing thick gloves the cold may cause my finger tips to fall off. The first 5 minutes are usually the worst because I haven’t warmed up yet from the cycling and I find myself wondering if I just should have taken the tram instead.

Lately however I’ve been trying to turn my thoughts around and appreciate the luxury of being able to ride to work by bike which is one of the perks of life in Amsterdam. I really enjoy being outdoors and moving my body for a half-hour before spending most of the day behind the computer. Also, I’m very lucky that to get to the office I ride through the beautiful center of Amsterdam. And when the sun decides to comes up, the peaceful canal views are really spectacular!

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