On this rainy Sunday, I am reflecting on the events of the past weeks. Thunder is rumbling ominously overhead, as raindrops fall in heavy curtains onto the gardens below.  It always takes me time and stillness to process events going on, before I can attempt to wrap some clumsy words around what I am feeling.

I am deeply saddened by the daily violence and systemic racial injustice towards Black people that is being highlighted with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many more.  I am aware that these issues are not something that is happening only in the US, this applies everywhere, including here in the Netherlands, and I am part of problem. As a white woman I am realising how much I have benefited from white supremacy my whole life.  Acknowledging my privilege feels uncomfortable, as it should, and I want to sit with that discomfort and dig deeper. Like many, I’ve been pondering: how can I be actively anti-racist? How can I be a better ally?

On this journey of understanding how be anti-racist, I commit to listening to the experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of colour and proactively spending time doing the work of unlearning white supremacy.  There is no magic switch, it wont happen overnight, it is a long and necessary unraveling.  This means that I will keep reading and educating myself to understand the complexities of the deep-rooted systemic racism and how it impacts my behaviour.  I will reflect on how to bring the focus back to our common humanity and how to take personal actions to contribute to change.  I will not shy away from uncomfortable discussions about race and inequalities, even if I fear I don’t have the ‘right arguments’.  I will make mistakes and get it wrong, and when that happens I will receive the feedback humbly and learn from it to do better next time.

Slowing down



In these strange COVID-19 times, I feel thankful for the fact that some preventive measures have been put into place and it means life is slowing down in an unprecedented way.  I know this crisis is negatively impacting thousands of people, and that many health professionals will be working overtime in extremely difficult conditions.  So I appreciate that this feeling of gratitude comes from a place of privilege (I am not in the most at-risk group; I have a safe place where I can keep my distance and that is also the case for my family; I can easily work from home and keep receiving my salary etc).

Only time will tell how the next weeks and months will turn out.  In order not to get too anxious, I’m trying instead to focus on the upsides of seeing what life is like when dialing back from the frenetic pace we are used to.  For now, I’d like to embrace this slowing down as an opportunity to rest and reflect.  I may use some of that down time at home to simply declutter the apartment, do some writing and work my way through the pile of books waiting to be read on my nightstand…

Joyful gratitude 101



Today I am grateful for the fact that as humans we have the capacity to imagine and create a better world.  Since JOYFUL GRATITUDE 101 sounds like the name of an introduction course, I started to imagine over the last few days what the world might look like if practicing gratitude was taught as a class in schools and universities, rather than a topic we gleaned from self-help books later on in life.

Imagine if practicing gratitude was presented to young people as an important activity for mental health, just like doing regular sport is for physical health? What if a fraction of the time spent on advanced math, was dedicated instead to learning how it is beneficial to take time to appreciate everything we have?

Imagine if instead of fixating on what we were lacking, we learnt early on to shift our focus onto what we are blessed with.  Imagine if we learnt from a young age the subversive act of mindfully resisting the feeling of scarcity and FOMO, and trained ourselves to zoom in more systematically to all that we do have going for us.

Maybe it could help turn tough periods into slightly easier times (particularly adolescence and being a young adult, but also later in life) and allow us to more readily reframe the messages we constantly receive from (social) media and advertising about how we are not enough. Maybe it would allow people to bring their precious creative gifts more freely into the world. Maybe it would create space to be aware of and help those who are not as privileged. Probably there are many other side effects I cannot even dream up.

At this stage I don’t have the keys to change the education system, so all I can do is ‘be the change I want to see’ at my own level.  I’m loving writing weekly about the big and small things I am grateful for, and hope maybe it can inspire some readers out there:)  Even so, to be honest I still easily get sucked into feelings of scarcity and comparison if I don’t watch my mind, so I’m trying my best to be mindful over and over again about looking out for the good things.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, how has practising gratitude impacted you?