Rearranging furniture

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #143

Another week has flown by and September has arrived, carrying with it memories of the back-to-school season with its deeply ingrained urge for renewal (new clothes, pens, notebooks…).  Instead, Paolo and I did some furntiture re-arranging in our appartment, which turned out to also be the perfect opportunity to give the bookshelves a much-needed scrub and donate some books to the little free library to make some space. The perfect autumn cleaning!

We decided to experiment with a new layout we had in mind, using only furniture we already have to see if the set up works for us.  As I type, my laptop is now placed on a table which receives lovely natural light, and my posture is greatly improved compared to when I sit in my usual writing spot on the sofa, cross-legged with my laptop balancing on a cushion on my knees.

So far I’m really enjoying the fresh perspective and it also feels like our living space is suddenly much bigger.  It’s a pleasure to see how a small change can make such a large impact. Now, I just need to keep my good resolutions of keeping the desk free from clutter:)

Permission to relax

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Last Friday, on my day off, I gave myself a wonderful gift.  It didn’t cost any money and I didn’t even need to leave the house. It was a grey rainy day outside and I knew I had an intensive weekend ahead, so I spent a large part of the day just lying on the sofa, reading.

I let myself be swept into the characters’ lives and was completely absorbed in another world for hours, while totally ignoring my real-life to-do list and not feeling like I needed to stop reading to do something more important.  It was wonderful and it recharged my batteries much more than ticking off items on my to-do list ever would. I plan to do this again soon. Here’s to giving ourselves permission to relax and recharge in whatever way works for us, regardless of what still needs to be done!

Desserts and good laughs

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #110

I am deeply grateful for these quiet days spent with my close family around delicious meals and many wonderful desserts, easy moments of catching up together after months of only talking on the phone, of laughing and being ourselves with our different characters and interests.

This week we also took the time to discover some poetic films that got us thinking, to get warm in the sauna whilst chatting about the world we live in and how we can change it, to exchange (experience) gifts, to go for a mini road-trip to a pittoresque village close by, to share our plans for 2019 and of course to take activist naps and recharge our batteries…

Beautiful forest details

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Just a five minute drive from the house where I grew up, there is a forest where I love to take walks.  There are several options: you can take the tarmac path straight into the heart of the forest, you can explore muddy side paths or you can walk right at the foot of the trees, your shoes sinking with each step into the deep layers of fallen leaves.

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Today I mostly ignored the paths and spent the morning deep in the humid undergrowth, guided by every splash of colour or unusual shape, looking at the tiniest details to see what I could find. I was welcomed by trees, mushrooms, mosses and lichens of all types, as well as slugs patiently gliding along and snacking on mushrooms.

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On my treasure hunt for beauty, there was just the sound of birds calling to each other. I felt perfectly in the moment, taking in all the beautiful colours and textures.  I experimented with photographing what I came across, until my jeans were dirty and humid from kneeling down to get close to the forest floor.

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Forest bathing is so healing. Looking at myself in the mirror when I got home I was glowing like I’d just had a long nap or a restorative massage, my body kindly reminding me, yet again, that I should surround myself with nature more often:)

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Reaching out

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Last week went to recharge my batteries with my family in France.  It was the perfect occasion to have lots of long chats during sunny walks in the forest and the park. Over cups of tea and home-made cake or under the duvet with my sisters we talked and talked, trying to make sense of the many things tangled in our minds, armed with angel cards to guide us, laughing at our interpretations of the what the words we randomly picked might be trying to tell us.

I love the plant in the photo above, with its hundreds of feather-like arms reaching out confidently in all directions. It is my visual reminder to keep connecting with people even if it takes some effort, particularly at the moment, because by reaching out I’m reminded that we all have our struggles, big and small,  that there actually is no such thing as ‘having life figured out’, and that I am OK.

Though I didn’t come back to Amsterdam with anything like a solution or a plan on how to move forward, it was simply helpful to see that we love each other regardless of what’s going on because there is no right or wrong way to do things, these situations too shall pass once we’ve grappled with them and learned the precious life lessons they carry on their back.

Tiny apples

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #97

When life gives you tiny little apples from the garden, make apple sauce.

The act of peeling multitudes of these small apples is perfect for being in the moment.  You can’t rush otherwise you peel away half the apple, you need to focus because there are spoiled bits that need to be carefully chopped off, you need to accept that it will take the time it takes…  The result is totally worth it: a delicious and sweet compote de pommes and a quiet mind.

*****

Thanks to my fellow apple-picker and hand model Helena.

Family time

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #73

I am grateful for having had the luxury of a long weekend at home in France to recharge my batteries.  It was a pleasure to catch up with my family, chatting and laughing while enjoying delicious meals, a fusion of slow cooked French traditional dishes alongside Lebanese delicacies.  Cakes were abundant as always, as well as Easter treats in many forms (including an unexpected chocolate clam!).

Not everything revolved around food though, we also soothed our mind with some lovely spontaneous meditation sessions, lying side by side on our mats, our heads supported by lavender filled cushions as we did our best to focus on the guided body scan. It was particularly fun to debrief afterwards and compare our experiences:)

Cooking together

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #72

So glad to start the long Easter weekend early.  In the few hours since I arrived home in France a rhubarb crumble has been baked by my mum (filling the kitchen with the delicious smell of butter) and a huge pot of vegetarian bolognese sauce is now simmering away on the stove (the result of a team effort of mindful vegetable washing and chopping, whilst chatting away, laughing and catching up on each others lives in the past weeks:)

Gentle alignment

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I’m back home after this wonderful escapade to France and Italy, and I feel like I’ve been away for ages though it’s only been 2 weeks. It’s a pleasure to be back in the flat that smells like natural soap and find that all my plants have survived perfectly despite the cold. I feel energised and inspired. Being away and seeing new horizons has taken my mind off the day-to-day and it feels like new spaces have opened up in my mind. I can hear more clearly that small voice saying “I want more exploration and curiosity, less stress, more adventures, more creativity and connection with those dearest to me”.

Every year for the past 5 years (or maybe even more??) I’ve chosen a word to guide and inspire me throughout the year. After my 2017 epiphany, I’ve realised one word may be too vague, so this year I’ve decided to experiment with a couple of words to see if that helps:)  My guiding words for 2018 are GENTLE ALIGNMENT. What exactly that will look like, I don’t yet know… All I can say is I hope to make tiny steps and adjustments so every day I can find inspiration from all different sources, as well as many laughs and fun and sparks of joy!

What word(s) will guide you in 2018??

Looking ahead and dreaming big

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #59

These days I’m enjoying spending time with my family. Having a bit more than just a couple of days together means we can do more than just scratch the surface on how we are all doing and what is keeping us occupied. Over many lengthy meals, cups of tea and pieces of homemade cake, we’re slowly getting past the talk of day to day topics to deeper conversations, and that’s where it gets more interesting and I feel like we really connect.

With my Mum and sisters, we spent a really fun afternoon of art and collage around the kitchen table to manifest all the wonderful things that we would like to call into our lives for 2018. Then over breakfast we were making grand plans to travel together for 2019. It is in these quiet times that there is space to dream big. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring us!