Dark December days

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Lately the days are getting shorter and shorter, and even during normal daylight hours the clouds are so low that I sometimes need to switch on the light to see properly inside the flat.

Yesterday was one of those dark days, but after sitting indoors half of the afternoon, I decided to go for a walk, more because I knew that it would do me good than because I really felt like it. I took my camera along just in case.

The light was definitely not on my side, I had to crank up the ISO and hold as still as I could with slow shutter speeds, but it was a good exercise in spotting beauty in the remnants of plants and experimenting.

These tiny fruit that remind me of gorgeous fairy lights caught my eye and I got chatting with a lady, who was harvesting them into a small bowl.  She told me they are goji berries… you know that super food that is so fashionable these days?? Turns out they grow easily in our climate and as you can see this one still has fruits in December! Perfect for pepping up your muesli:)

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Finding flow

 

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Some days even the most basic things seem overly complicated in my mind and  something as simple as attempting to ‘breathe mindfully’ during morning meditation feels unnatural and forced.  However I’ve realised there is one thing that I can count on to calm me and bring me back to myself: taking photos of details.

The biggest effort is to head out the door with my camera. Once that is done I let myself be guided by my eyes around the streets near my house or in one of the nearby parks.  Looking closely at my surroundings (mainly plants, I admit;) ) I feel this curiousity and a desire to see as if for the first time, and my breathing steadies and deepens naturally as I snap the shots.

Often such an outing results in a few dozen blurry, uninteresting pictures which I can delete again as soon as I get home.  Other times in a batch of pictures there are a few that make my heart sing, perfectly imperfect shots of unexpected details I’d never previously noticed or bright flowers and leaves that brighten a grey afternoon.

But I’ve realised that the photos themselves are not the point.  I’m learning to trust in the process. It is not about the pictures I take but about getting out of the house to focus on something I deeply love to do, remembering how it feels like to be in flow regardless of the outcome. It is my body’s way of sending me hopeful messages that it still knows how to feel at ease when I am doing what is in line with my heart’s wishes.  Now, how to apply this wisdom to other realms of my life??

Beautiful buildings in Lisbon

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One of my favorite things about wandering around Lisbon is looking up at the amazing buildings.  This blue one above with its corrugated-iron roof and azulejos is my favorite from this trip. It overlooked a tiny beco (alley) where an improbable banana tree was growing in the city center.

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The colours of the walls are individually beautiful, and placed one next to the other they create the perfect colour palette, like the pastel-coloured trio above (not to mention the gorgeous lanterns!!!:)

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As I explored the winding alleys, I loved seeing how the buildings were placed on small uneven plots on steep hills, their curves or straight edges squeezing into the space in sometimes surprising angles.

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Also the run-down facades are fascinating.  Each has its very own style with wrought-iron balconies, details in the shapes of the windows and doors and a certain charm in the way the paint peels off in the sunshine.

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Finally I love how alive the buildings are, with plants on balconies, hammacs and deck chairs wherever possible, people watching what’s going on in the street and clean laundry billowing in the breeze.

Twirling dancers

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #64

Today I would like to celebrate the insanely beautiful Romanesco broccoli. It turns out it is incredibly hard to take a picture that does justice to the amazing shape and geometry of this veggie. The upside is that, from this angle, the little peaks of the broccoli look to me like a dance-floor full of twirling dresses. So gorgeous!

Wintery details

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Sunday was a gorgeous sunny morning, so I followed my good intentions and went straight out into the cold for a walk. Sometimes when I go to an area where I regularly wander, I lack inspiration for taking pictures.  I often long for new horizons, exciting unknown places as it seems so much easier to be delighted by unfamiliar locations.  So to counter that feeling, I challenged myself on this walk to see things with fresh eyes and to take in what was unique to that particular morning.

Apart from a few people walking their dogs, I was nearly alone in the rose garden in the Vondelpark. The sunrays were barely starting to touch that part of the park and the pathway was slightly slippery with ice. I took my time, as if exploring for the very first time, captivated by the beauty of the ice on the grass and leaves, that started melting away in the sunlight. I was also mesmerised by this tiny yellow rose left over from another season, with its near transparent petals like a delicate pastry.

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Mindful walk

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #62

I have lots of good intentions about going for a walk first thing in the morning when I’m not rushing to work, but for some reason I resist them fiercely.  Though I know it would be good for me to begin the day by moving my body, getting some fresh air and being in touch with the elements, somehow I usually come up with all sorts of things that need doing before I head out.

However today the sun was beckoning after yesterday’s windy storm, so before starting anything else I just put on my shoes and left the house.

I had a beautiful walk. It felt so great to be outside and take my time, with no specific destination in mind, my only goal being to try and walk on the sunny side of the street as much as possible. The cold woke me up and I enjoyed looking at the sun playing hide and seek in passing clouds. To be present and not get too lost in my thoughts, I focussed on small things that caught my eye, like the unusual beauty in a colourful lichen or branches of a willow tree gently knotted together…

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Spotting details in the streets of Rome

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Whilst wandering the streets of Rome and other cities in Italy, I love to look at the details of the shopfronts which look so different to the ones in Amsterdam. Some of them have clearly remained unchanged for decades, with their amazing old-school fonts, diluted colours and paint slowly chipping off.

To me it actually gives these shops a certain charm and I wonder whether inside they are still working according to the more humane rhythm of those long-gone eras… Here are a few of my favorites from my last trip.

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