For today’s post I am thrilled to have collaborated with the illustrator Eva Polakovicova (Eva Pola Illustration & Design). She created these lovely illustrations to accompany my words, working by hand combining her stencil technique and colour inks. She did a wonderful job of capturing the joy of these small pleasures, and I am in love with this gorgeous colour palette♥
You can find out more about Eva’s inspiration and this technique in the interview we did back in January.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #182
Watching little groups of sparrows come to drink water on my balcony
The sound and smell of white wine evaporating from risotto rice
Lying down at the end of the day and relaxing into my pillow, knowing there is still time to read a good book
Opening the mailbox and finding a postcard or an envelope from someone I hold dear
Having no plans and letting myself fall asleep in the sofa in the afternoon without setting an alarm
Cooking with radish leaves and carrot tops and feeling like there is twice as much food and no waste
The smell of rain on the garden after a long dry spell
The lovely feeling of fatigue after several hours of walking or cycling in nature
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #168
I am grateful for meeting up early with a friend, on my Friday morning off, to take a walk in the Vondelpark. It was a lovely way to start the day, feeling the wintry air on my face, walking along the paths trying to avoid getting too muddy, watching energetic dogs playing together, as we chatted about how our week had been and all sorts of things… As someone who usually takes a while to get out of the house when I don’t need to go to the office, it felt like a great way to kick-start to the day by moving and connecting with my body. I must remind myself to do it more often, either by myself or with the added bonus of going with a friend:)
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 #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 #155
Recently during a meeting at work I mentioned to a colleague of mine that I do creative writing in my free time and it just so happened that she was looking for submissions for a project about Amsterdam. As I’ve actively decided to seize the opportunities that come across my path and aim to do at least two submissions per month, I asked her for the guidelines and promised I’d send her a piece.
Even though working on this creative non-fiction piece really stretched me, I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I am very grateful for this chance, as each concrete assignment helps me to practise working within certain guidelines and to improve my skills.
I also really appreciate the serendipity of hearing about this project just now that dare to call myself a writer in the presence of other people:-) Here’s hoping that there will be lots of interesting coincidences and writing opportunities in the near future!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #131
In August last year when I was on the edge or in burnout, everything felt like too much. I wanted to do fun things that interested me, but I just had no mental space for anything except the bare minimum (which was pretty much only work). I realised this week that in the last months I’m starting to find more joy again in extra activities, like boxing, and helping colleagues who are performing the gender scan in our organisation, and of course writing…
I want to stop and appreciate how far I’ve come and how much better I feel, especially since there were moments when I deeply feared I would never feel like I had energy again. It’s not perfect, I still experience nights where I lie awake too long or anxious mornings, but I feel like by being more mindful of self-care, I’ve managed to carve out some space for the things that I enjoy or spark my curiosity. These activities do take some energy, but in return they also give me satisfaction and a feeling of contributing with my input and voice to a slightly lighter and more joyful world.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #116
This week I’d simply like to share my immense gratitude for cheerful plants. Plants that are so jubilant that they are throwing their arms into the air in a gesture of sheer joy and fun. Hooray!!! Seeing these photos brings a smile to my face everytime:) Wishing you a wonderful weekend that leaves you feeling this delighted:)
Also, reminds me of the mini-succulent party I came across at the botanical garden in 2017:) They too were having a blast!