JOYFUL GRATITUDE #167
Last year I decided to try and take a day off work every so often, just to recharge my batteries and make more space for myself. The first and last time I took such a random day off it felt wonderful and I’m surprised to see that it was almost a year ago already!
In late January, I planned to take another such day off, in the middle of February. It seemed like ages away at the time, but I’m so glad I blocked time for it in my agenda as it felt perfectly timed. So grateful to past-me for scheduling it;) I also enjoyed the special feeling of being free while most people are at work.
I planned absolutely nothing and spent the day taking it very easy. I thought about what I felt like doing in that moment and did it. I ended up watching a movie at home in the middle of the day (something I don’t do often enough!), cooked good food for myself, went for a long walk to clear my head and watched the rough wind ruffle through the grass, I took time to edit a fiction piece I am writing… It was just what I needed:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #166
Today I’d like to express gratitude for that beautiful feeling of relief when I have some free time after several consecutive days of busyness where I had lots to do both during the work days and in the evenings. Even if they are things I enjoy, like my writing class, doing an escape room with my colleagues or catching up with friends, I find real comfort in having several uninterrupted hours to myself. I really need this time in order to process all the inputs from the past days, journal, reflect, stare out the window and switch off for a while to reconnect with myself.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #165
I’m grateful for the blue sky and winter sun, perfect weather for sitting peacefully by the water, without haste. A flock of white geese paddle by, as the sun warms my face. The willow branches sway in the wind. Two moorhens putter about by the shore, before diving into the water repeatedly and snacking with gusto on their catch. When a large boat passes by, the water brushes up on the rocks in small waves. It’s so grounding to be focused on these simple scenes that often escape my attention.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #164
In January, I’ve been lucky to borrow several unputdownable books from the library. I am grateful to live in Amsterdam, a city with such a well-stocked public library, which means all these amazing books are easily accessible.
Winter is perfect for going to bed early and having the luxury of reading in peace after a busy day. I love the feeling of being in the middle of a great book and not being able to wait to dive back into it and find out what happens. I relish being drawn into new experiences and seeing the world through different characters’ eyes for a while. As a novice writer, I am in awe of the authors’ craft and hope to soak up their expert story-telling techniques and absorb their beautiful way with words.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #163
Last Saturday I went with two dear friends for a walk in the Utrechtse Heuvelrug national park as a belated experience-gift for my birthday. As we walked away from the station with its noisy traffic, and entered deeper into the woods, time seemed to slow down. It felt so good to breathe in the smells of the humid forest. I felt my legs getting more energised with each step on the path.
The landscape kept surprising us, changing from oak forest to pine trees, to sandy open spaces, to paths winding through mossy forest floors… Also we were graced with a wide range of different weather in just a few hours: sunshine, clouds, rain, rain and sunshine at the same time, and even hail, as we continued to put one foot in front of the other, without haste.
As always it felt really good to be away from the bustling city, not to mention the snacks and thermos full of boozy tea that we had along the way, which took the experience to another level;) But mostly it was our chats and laughs that made my day. I’m so grateful for sharing this calm afternoon, talking about what’s on our minds and catching up in such a relaxing setting.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #162
I am grateful for the good times with my friends based here in the Netherlands. As I don’t live in the same country as my close family, I appreciate how vital it is to be surrounded by people who I can really connect with and be myself around:) I hope these first weeks of 2020 set the tone for the rest of the decade.
We’ve had the chance to spend quality time exploring the Veluwe, inspiring each other, chatting about our hopes and intentions for the new year and making collage dream boards, having good laughs, watching a great documentary and sharing our thoughts about it afterwards until we got kicked out of the room, motivating one another to go for lunch walks together to refresh our minds amidst busy work meetings… I feel blessed to have such wonderful people by my side to make the days a little sweeter!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #161
Yesterday evening I sat down to write a letter. Though I do regularly send postcards, taking the time to write a proper letter made me realise how rarely I do so. I was writing in response to a letter from a dear friend, written a couple of months ago. Her familiar hand-writing covering several pages of lined paper, bringing me her thoughts and fragments of her life from the other side of the globe. A physical letter that I have pulled out, unfolded and re-read since I received it, thinking of my friend, taking the time to contemplate what I’d like to answer and tell her about, the questions I want to ask her…
So yesterday alone in the quiet of my flat, I finally took out some recycled paper and my favorite pen, and got writing. About banal things, how the holidays had been, what I’ve been up to recently and what is on my mind of late… The pages filled up quickly, thoughts flowing and getting more personal as I scribbled them down. I ended up with a neat pile of numbered pages, slipped tightly into an envelope which will make its way across the world.
I love that letters don’t demand an immediate reading or a fast answer. They can stray in the limbo of the postal system. By the time my words arrive, a couple of weeks will have passed, new events will have unfolded, thoughts will have evolved. The snippets of my life contained in the letter will be about an earlier-me, and penning the thoughts helped me to figure out what they meant to me at the time.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #160
I am so glad that during the busy December days I took the time to plan a short trip away from the city with like-minded friends. Even though we were just a couple of hours from Amsterdam, it was nice to explore an area I’d never been to and recharge my batteries before going back to work.
Our long walks in the woods sparked all of our senses: breathing in the wintry forest smells, observing the mosses, lichens, fungi and other details, noting the undergrowth that had been upturned by boars (or so we think;), fingers getting cold as the sun dropped below the horizon, hearing the wild-geese flying by in the sky… We were lucky to have several days of sunny weather and the low winter light shining through the mist and the trees was magic.
I also particularly enjoyed our walks because they were fueled by real conversations, and also by deliciously rich brandy-fed Christmas cake and hot chocolate! The bar is now incredibly high for the coming walks in nature in 2020;)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #159
Despite the festivities and family get-togethers, this has felt like a calm week, dedicated to slowing down. I particularly enjoyed the fact that we were not online or watching television too much. Instead, we have been playing board games, a simple way to spend time together, laugh a lot and connect. We also made our yearly dream-board collages and inspired each other with colourful images, activitst ideas, creative projects… I’m happy to collect these good memories and inspiration for the next months when we will all go back to our day-to-day lives in different places.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #158
I made it back to my hometown in France without too much trouble, despite the on-going strike. After a busy week trying to finalise things before the holidays and packing, I appreciate being able to simply take my time.
This morning I slept in and after breakfast I slipped back under the colourful duvet to read Flow magazine. I love the slow-paced articles accompanied by beautiful illustrations, that get me thinking and remind me about the important things in life. I am particularly grateful for this precious downtime to recharge my batteries before the xmas festivities begin.