Calm Friday

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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.

How to organise a dream board session

I have always loved making collages, and in the last few years, I’ve started sharing this practice with family and friends by organising dream board collage sessions.  I find those few hours spent together are always very energising and inspiring.  Below I’m sharing how I organise these sessions as an inspiration to anyone who would like to do the same:)

Why create a dream board?

Browsing through the magazines, it’s a time to reflect, to switch off from our phone and computer and do something by hand.  By identifying and visualising your dreams, they are much more likely to happen.

You can create a mood board by yourself, I do so regularly.  However, it’s also really nice to do it with others. When you share your dreams with those around you, they will also be rooting for you and you’d be surprised how they will connect the dots to help you make them come true.

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What do you need?

  • Scissors and glue
  • Paper (though you can also use a page from a magazine as a backdrop)
  • Magazines (any magazine will work.  I particularly love Flow magazine, Simple things and travel magazines, but think of your own hobbies and interests)
  • Tea and coffee, and some biscuits or a good slice of cake (optional, but definitely nice!)

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How to make the dream board?

We usually start by choosing a word/words to guide you during the next year or next 3 months. Think of what you want to bring into your year and would like to focus on.

Take a magazine and look through the pages, cutting out whatever attracts your eye: photos, words, illustrations, colours, shapes… Don’t censor yourself, you can always decide not to paste it in.

When you have a pile of images and words, you can start moving them around on the page, and when you are satisfied stick them on.  The beauty is that there is no right or wrong.  You don’t need to be ‘creative’ to do this, the key is to let yourself be guided by the colours and your instincts.

Everyone’s collage will be unique (it may contain mainly words, or only photos, it may fit on one A4 page or spill out over several pages sticky-taped together into a large poster, or you can paste them into a notebook specially for your dreams, year after year).

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What next?

When you’re done, you can present your collages to each other, mentioning what word you chose and how these images inspire you.  You don’t have to, as you may prefer to keep this to yourself if it feels vulnerable. I enjoy sharing because it is very interesting to see what others are busy with and get ideas from other people’s dreams. Also you get to know each other better and it’s a lovely way to connect. Then you can put your collage in a place where it is visible in your day to day life, as a reminder of your dreams.

Dreaming up the new year

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #113

Last weekend, with a few dear friends we spent the afternoon reflecting on last year and making dream boards for the new year.  A calm afternoon, hot tea and coffee in our mugs, accompanied by delicious vegan (and not-so-vegan) cakes as we sat around the kitchen table. It was great fun to look back at the dream boards we made together a year ago, discussing the words we had chosen for the year and how reality had panned out.  We celebrated the successes and achievements of the past year, and acknowledged the tough stuff that happened too.

Afterwards we got quiet cutting out pictures and words from tattered magazines that have been cut out from many times over and pasting the colourful images and inspirational snippets to create new dream boards…

I am so grateful for these lovely friends who embrace the dream board concept with joy, and who inspire me so much with their stories, dreams, perseverance and achievements.  Just spending a few hours together really energised me, we could simply be ourselves and dream up all sorts of wild ideas for 2019, manifesting our desires visually and calling in synchronicity and support from the universe:) I can’t wait to see what this year brings us all!

2018 reading statistics

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It’s always interesting to look back at the past year’s books and crunch some numbers to observe if there are any trends and help plan for the year ahead. This year I started tracking which books I read on Goodreads, which is great because it means I have an accurate overview, as it’s easy to forget which books I was reading 12 months ago.

Findings from 2018

In 2018, I read 56 books, corresponding to 16320 pages (!), I doubt I’ve ever read that many books in one year.  I mostly read novels (64%), the rest was a combination of non-fiction/memoirs/self-help books.

Of those books, 59% were written by women (33 books), 39% by men (22 books)  and 2% by a woman/man couple (1 book).  I paid more attention this year to selecting books written by women so I’m glad that is reflected in these numbers and it balances out my 2017 gender gap.

Without particularly trying to diversify, the authors of the books are from 13 different nationalities (Austria, Australia, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Switserland, USA), however with a high proportion of the books written by authors from the USA. I read mostly in English, and just a few books in French and one in Italian.

The books I read were published between 1946 and 2018, however the large majority  of what I chose to read was written from 2000 onward (84%). Like for movies, I tend to be attracted more by recent books.

Plans for 2019

I would like to make a more conscious effort to support new authors, as well as read more books from different countries. (I’m so inspired by the story of the lady who read a book from every country in the world)

I will continue to strive for gender balance. I plan to source my books from a combination of the public library, independent bookstores, gifts (I received four great books by women authors for Christmas, hooray!) and the little free libraries in the neighbourhood.

I’m curious to hear your reading plans for 2019. Feel free to share in the comments:)

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.

That post-holiday feeling

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Our trip to Lisbon was great! It was wonderful to have 9 days to explore the city slowly, having the time to head out without a real plan and just discover new places or return to ones we particularly liked, soaking up the atmospheres of different neighbourhoods.

Now that we’re back in Amsterdam, I can feel the benefits of having had some time off, I feel lighter and in a better mood. Also in a way the trip is not entirely over since I now have the joy of quietly letting all the impressions of the past days sink in: the tastes, colours, smells, conversations, laughs… It always takes me some time to process all the experiences from when I travel, to reflect on them in my journal and see what inspiration and ideas come up.

Quiet morning off

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #42

Every second week I have the Friday off from work. I enjoy those Fridays even more than regular weekend days because I feel like I have this precious time for myself while the world around me is working.

Spending those mornings in one of my favorite cafés without needing to rush anywhere is bliss. I love watching the baristas at work, taking the time to reflect on the past week in my journal, observing other customers (I confess I also really like eavesdropping and hearing the most unexpected conversations)… I am grateful for these pockets of quiet time off to recharge my batteries.