Pockets of downtime

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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.

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!

A step back to reflect

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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?

Quiet time

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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.

Quiet moments at the beach

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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.

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Luxury is a state of mind

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #61

I am excited about the pile of new books on my dresser that are waiting to be read and the fact that it’s weekend, meaning I have plenty of free time to laze about in pyjamas with a delicious cup of tea and can delve uninterrupted into the worlds between their pages!

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!

Hooray, it’s the holidays!

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #58

After a frantic end of the year trying to finish off as much as possible at work, the holidays have finally arrived:) I am so glad to have some time off to enjoy the important things in life. These include but are not limited to having time to catch up with my family around chocolate cake and tea, while planning the menus for the coming festivities; hunting around our garden for intriguing and beautiful plants to photograph; reading magazines and looking through the art books on my Mum’s coffee table… Free time feels like such a luxury.

How-to for a day of extreme self-care

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  1. Make sure to have no plans whatsoever. Nothing on the agenda. No-one to meet with.
  2. Go for a walk after breakfast. Soak up the rays of winter sun, stock up on precious vitamine D. Breathe in the fresh air. Enjoy exploring the familiar paths of your neighbourhood.
  3. Look for some nice plants to photograph. Feel your fingers get cold as you take pictures without gloves on.
  4. Pass by the little free library down the road. Pick up a book or two that catch your fancy.
  5. When it starts raining, rush home.  Enjoy the excuse to stay indoors. Use the quiet time to journal and process your thoughts. Listen to the voice of your intuition.
  6. Spend the rest of the afternoon reading peacefully on the sofa while sipping fresh ginger tea.
  7. Have a delicious dinner of left-overs.
  8. Read some more.
  9. Go to sleep early.
  10. Repeat:)

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Quiet evenings in

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #55

With the cold weather upon us, I feel so glad when I have quiet evenings at home where I don’t need to brave the icy wind on my bike to go someplace.  Having time to potter around the flat, write some thoughts in my journal or read a good book curled up under a cosy blanket, with a cup of ginger-orange yogi tea by my side, is simply wonderful.

I’m grateful that hibernation season is here, and I plan to make a conscious effort not to make too many plans to go out, so I can protect these sacred evenings of calm as a gift to myself:)