JOYFUL GRATITUDE #208
Recently storm Darcy swept across the Netherlands leaving a layer of snow over the city and immobilising public transport. The first couple of days the clouds hung heavy and the wind was blistering cold, but that didn’t deter anyone from going out. The streets and parks were full of people dressed in full-on ski-suits and colourful hats and scarves.
Wrapped in my many layers, I also went to explore, enjoying the crunch of every step in the fine snow. It’s amazing how these paths, that I’ve been walking along so regularly during the last months to keep my sanity during lock-down, looked so new and exciting just thanks to a beautiful dusting of snow.
It was also fun to watching people on long-distance skis making laps around the park, children on fancy sleighs or simple constructions made from kids’ chairs cleverly tied together, snow-people and snow-forts being built on the side of the road…
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #168
I am grateful for meeting up early with a friend, on my Friday morning off, to take a walk in the Vondelpark. It was a lovely way to start the day, feeling the wintry air on my face, walking along the paths trying to avoid getting too muddy, watching energetic dogs playing together, as we chatted about how our week had been and all sorts of things… As someone who usually takes a while to get out of the house when I don’t need to go to the office, it felt like a great way to kick-start to the day by moving and connecting with my body. I must remind myself to do it more often, either by myself or with the added bonus of going with a friend:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #134
Yesterday as I was cycling leisurely home from my boxing class just before 10pm, it was still daylight and the Vondelpark was bathed in the soft light of the magic hour… and an incredible mist started rising mysteriously over the wide open grass spaces and the water of the lakes. It was a breathtaking sight. So grateful to have been there to witness it:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #71
This week in our meditation course, we made a list of our daily routine activities and were asked to indicate which ones we find depleting and which ones nourishing. A very interesting exercise, especially because many of those activities turned out to be depleting on one day or nourishing on another, depending on circumstances or state of mind.
An example for me is cycling to work. Being within cycling distance of work is part of the life choices I’ve made, and I am so grateful to be able to do so. I particularly love the 10 minutes of the ride through Vondelpark. As I cycle through the park, I find myself tuning in to admire the frost on the grass, focus on how the slanted rays of sunshine come through the trees, spot the storks that have come back to nest and feeling the fresh air on my face as I pedal along.
However some days I am less in tune to the nourishing side of my commute than others. When it is extremely cold, raining cats and dogs or simply still dark, I often find it hard to enjoy the ride and focus mainly on getting to my destination. Also, part of my commute involves riding through the city center with lots of traffic, not to mention the major road works that have been going on outside our office for 6 months. I experience that part as loud and stressful, and very depleting. My challenge is to be more mindful in this part of the ride and to accept being in that moment, instead of wishing it was different. Let’s see how that goes!
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.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #44
I love cycling slowly along the outskirts of Vondelpark and looking at all the beautiful houses with their high windows and amazing details.
This house in particular seems like it belongs in a book of fairy tales. I like to imagine that behind these walls are winding staircases, secret doorways and hidden passages leading from one room to another. The perfect backdrop for fantastic stories about things like fabulous elves, helpful magicians, self-sufficient siblings who run the show, lovelorn princes and sloths who can talk…
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #19
This morning was one of the first sunny spring mornings, so instead of trying to get to the office as fast as possible I decided to take my time (it was Friday after all!). I took a slightly different route as I cycled through the Vondelpark and just making that small change made me much more aware of my surroundings. Normally I am lost in my thoughts, or just paying attention to the path, but this morning I really enjoyed the view. The soft sunlight shining through the trees was magnificent!