JOYFUL GRATITUDE #170
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 #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:)
Sometimes the perfect way to spend a Tuesday evening after a long day is just to come home and indulge in a take-away TV dinner. I’m so grateful for a quiet evening in, to savour the delicious caramelised eggplant dish picked up from the restaurant down the road and watching Casa de Papel (otherwise known as ‘practicing my spanish’;) I think will top it off by going to bed early to read! Saludos!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #153
Last Sunday I kept an entire day free of plans, so that I could recharge my batteries. I had some work to do on my writing assignment and plenty of other to-dos, but I decided to first take some time for myself.
I spent an hour meditating, sitting in silence and trying to focus only on my breathing (which in reality ended up being more like becoming aware of my incessant thoughts and letting them come and go). It felt like a reset for my overstimulated brain, a welcome break from constant inputs.
Afterwards, since the sun made a welcome appearance after some very rainy days, I took the chance to go for a slow walk in the neighbourhood. I did my best to stay as much as possible on the sunny side of the street to soak up lots of vitamine D and watched people enjoying the good weather as I ambled along.
The autumn colours were beautiful, with colourful leaves holding tight to their branches and covering the pavement. I also enjoyed observing the details of the last flowers remaining in people’s gardens, like this purple flower with its silky petals emerging from the strange black and green pod, and the petals around the remnants of this bordeaux-coloured flower.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #147
After participating in the climate strike last week, I felt a deep need to rest. Luckily I had guarded my free time in the weekend like a watchdog and had scheduled a full day and a half with no absolutely zero plans, no where to go and no one to meet. I realise how privileged I am to have so much free time, and I am very grateful for that.
I know I write a lot about how much I like quiet time, so if it sounds repetitive feel free to skip this post. However I will continue to write about it because sometimes it’s important to stop and observe. We live in this flurry of a world where everything is a click away and instant notifications increasingly pull at our attention, where we feel we should satisfy everyone who wants a piece of our time and FOMO is just around the corner making it extremely hard to say NO to things. In this context, I want to normalise carving out down time for ourselves. I want to be able to say “I am available that day, but actually I prefer to rest” without feeling like I’m letting people down. Because really, even if I were say YES to everything, there would still be people I let down, and more importantly I would be letting myself down by not getting the down time I need to recharge my batteries.
In that day and a half, I did things that were important to me, like writing, and I did them without being in a rush, with enough time to procrastinate by baking a delicious apple cake, stare mindlessly out the window and write three different drafts of my assignment before choosing the first one after all… On Sunday evening, I realised I was still in my pyjamas and went straight back to bed in them. It was perfect. On Monday morning, I felt completely renewed. Those sleep-ins and taking time to reflect while pyjama-lounging on the sofa set me off to a positive start of the next week and I had more energy to give to those around me.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #122
As I type this, it is Friday morning on my blissful day off. It’s quiet and I don’t need to rush to work. I’ve enjoyed a slow breakfast and a chat, looking over a lovely bouquet of flowers towering in an improvised jug-vase on the kitchen table. Ahead of me I have a peaceful creative afternoon with a dear friend, and afterwards a low-key weekend to process the past week, read, stare out the window perhaps, do a little writing and generally take the time to relax. I am grateful for pockets of downtime, tranquil moments to recharge in between the busy office days.
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!
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #104
Today marks 2 years of writing weekly about JOYFUL GRATITUDE, so like last year I am taking a step back to reflect a little on this practice.
Writing the weekly post has the benefit of bringing me joy by re-living the moment and exploring what it was exactly that delighted me. Recognising those special moments helps to consciously create more of them in the busy day to day rush.
I’d like to bring up one point however. It may seem when reading the weekly posts like everything is always rosy, as I focus on the good times, creating something that may seem like a mismatch between real life and my tone here. In reality, I am struggling like everyone. Though I realise I am very privileged, I must still work hard to find mental balance and peace.
This weekly practice is an exercise in training my mind to zoom in on the positive, big and small things that bring me gratitude. Like everyone I struggle with bad moods, fear and doubt, but there is also a wise voice in me, like in all of us, and I trust that by writing regularly here, this voice is somehow guiding me step by step. I am deeply grateful for this voice tapping into a deep pool of wisdom somewhere beneath the surface:)
When having a quick look at the main themes that came up over the last year, there were no surprises. The top 3 can be categorised like this:
1. Nature / Outdoors / Plants
2. Quiet time / Reflection
3. Mindfulness / Self-care
So that’s where I’ll continue to focus on the coming months:) Tell me, what will your focus be?
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #94
Sometimes it’s necessary to break away from daily routine and take a step back to rest, reflect and let the busy-ness subside. I am deeply grateful to have that time and be able to escape for a few days and connect again with myself in the beautiful nature of the Veluwe.
A few more pictures from that morning when we went to see the sunrise at the beach. I want to remind myself of the luxury feeling of having the empty beach stretched out before us as we walked along with no destination, nowhere we needed to be at a specific time, just the freedom to stop and watch the waves crashing over and over again, or to examine the amazing patterns on huge jellyfish or the multitude of tiny stones and shells washed up on the shore. I want to bring more and more of this peace into my daily life, without having to go far to find it.