Each year I pray and think about a focus for the contemplative 40 day period between Ashwednesday and Easter: so-called Lent.
Last year I went without the distraction of constantly checking Facebook for 40 days and making more time for prayer and meditation.
This year my focus will be on decluttering my physical space, making more room in my head to pray and spend time with God.
Since I struggle with perfectionism a lot, I decided to pick one thing each day that I find hard to let go of, put it on my table for a day and ask myself these questions the next day:
Is this adding value to my life?
Does it make me happy when I look at it?
If it’s a twofold ‘no’ it’s probably gotta go.
If you’d like to follow my progress, you can, on my Instagram account @simple_inspired
If you would like to learn more about minimalist living:
check out Leo Babauta’s website, one of my long time favorite sites: zenhabits.net
and if you’re Dutch, check out Jelle Derckx’ helpful and inspiring website: lijstjes.info (also on IG)
I had a full-blown Advent make-over in mind…a complete overhaul of all my bodily, spiritual, mental, financial and house clutter. Of course I fell in the trap of DOING too much instead of focussing on less this Advent period and quickly started to feel an alarming sense of overwhelm.
Living life is like a haiku*: less is better and simple is more poignant.
This week I want to focus on getting more clarity and simplicity in my head: spiritual, mental and emotional space. Here are two tools I recently rediscovered to tame my wild and busy head: Meditation and yoga
Why meditation and yoga?
I hope (and have already experienced) to be more present in the here and now, being less busy and judgmental in my head, having less wants (vs. needs), creating a sense of having and being ‘enough’.
A few weeks ago I resumed my meditation practice, with the help of the book Get Some Headspace by Andy Puddicombe, a British former buddhist monk. My eye fell on it, when I was browsing the bookshelves at our local library.
It was the very first book I ever read that REALLY explained meditation in a simple way. A true light bulb moment for me! I could totally pull this off!
So, what is meditation anyway? In a nutshell, meditation is the practice of paying attention and focusing awareness – in short, being fully conscious of the here and now. (…)What is meditation good for? More clarity and less stress.
Last Saturday I also returned to my yoga practice at a beautiful new yoga school in Amsterdam. I attended a class called: ‘yin yoga’. I found it a very interesting form of yoga, focusing on body sensations during long stretching poses (5 or 6 minutes long) and looking mindfully and with curiosity to the response of the mind. My head became more still, because of the intense physical sensations and the awesome teacher that kept reminding us to go back to our body and breathing.
Starting my week right
So this week I commit to doing yoga three times, and meditating everyday at least once, during five or ten minutes. I also commit to bringing the resulting sense of (self) acceptance and (self) compassion, with me into my day.
As my dear friend says:
‘May you be happy, healthy and at ease this week!’
I love December, that time of year when we drink hot cocoa, light candles, cuddle together to cocoon inside, turn up the heating and eat more cookies than usual. It’s also that time when I start wearing my Rudolf the reindeer slippers again. Winter depression anyone? Not me!
But, through all the coziness, food and fun, I can easily get distracted and sometimes feel a bit lost, losing sight of life’s basics, and of my relationship with a Power greater than me that I call God.
In my religious practice, the month before Christmas plays an important role in the year. I appreciate the idea of setting aside certain periods of the time (for example Advent and Lent) to practice certain habits and strenghten my relationship with God.
So besides looking forward to the coming (=Advent) of Jesus Christ, I also want to concern myself with the theme of: Back to Basics, and take you guys along on my journey.
Why would I want to go Back to Basics?
Eliminating physical, mental and/or spiritual clutter can be really helpful to focus on the important things in life. For example: creating order in my finances, house or mind can create greater freedom in my whole life. Simplifying leads to enhanced humility, focus and creativity.
In what areas could I go Back to Basics?
finances: creating clarity, being solvent, creating a life of “enough”
information and social media: decreasing the inflow and establishing mindful use
mind & emotions: decluttering by means of meditation
physical clutter: get moving and eat healthy and simple
spirituality: connect to a Power greater than myself on a daily basis.
The first of December you’ll find the first one in the series on my blog.
As a kid, I used to have several penpals: Wilmie and Anja from Holland, Aurélie and Gwenaëlle from France.
When I was a very young teenager I even had a sweet almost daily love letter correspondence with my boyfriend via snail mail! I even kept all of his letters.
The writing: first in draft, then in neat longhand, walking to the mailbox and then the waiting, oh the sweet waiting!
In this world full of distractions I long for simplicity, I wanna go retro, not techno, slower, not faster, prefering vintage to mass production and snail mail to electronic mail and so-called social networks…
How much more delight is there in the once a day chance of receiving a hand written letter or postcard on my doormat, instead of fighting and then giving in to compulsively checking all of my electronic inboxes.
Now I’ve found something excellent which both tickles my fancy for old-fashioned post and creativity. Postcrossing!
What is it and how does it work?
1. Go to the website: www.postcrossing.com and register
2. Request an address to send a postcard to and a code to write on it.
3. Recycle, buy, craft, photograph or paint away at your postcard. Don’t forget to write down the special code.
4. Send your postcard to the address. I already sent one to Germany and one to Russia! You can send up to 5 postcards simultaneously.
5. When the receiver gets the card, he or she registers the card with the help of the special code. Now it’s your turn to be eligible to get a postcard from another postcrosser somewhere in the world!
If you really start to get the taste of it, there is a possibility of post swapping on the website as well. Good old pen pal style!
13 Weeks ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter. Only one thing changed: everything.
This is my first post a.b. (after baby) and I’m excited pick up my proverbial pen again.
I tried my hand at writing a few weeks ago, but my life was so shaken that its particles were still swimming around in my head, making it impossible for me to see things clearly.
It’s a cliche, but motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me, and also the most challenging thing.
It brings about a big transformational force, speeding up my spiritual growth, because I simply to have to. Postponing growth is not an option.
Last year I’ve been writing about the mindful Benedictine monks and their wise take on everyday life. I find mindfulness a key practice for the wonders and aches of beginner motherhood and I try to practice it whenever I can.
In the beginning, when I was breastfeeding my baby, I would always keep my phone handy and fidget with it. Then I got an aha-moment, when I realized with shock that I didn’t want to miss this out on this precious time with my daughter!
So I put my phone away.
In came little islands of joy, gratitude, peace and being present in these beautiful moments.
One advisor of mine once said: mindfulness is being in the moment and NOT occupying yourself with:
– the past
– the future
– what other people think of you
(Or, your own self-critical voice for that matter…)
Being a mom, I find myself thinking about all three of those joy-sucking moment-stealers. Especially fear about the future (what if…happens) and questioning my abilities (am I good enough).
I heard a speaker in the GTD virtual study group podcast state that time is expandable: that is: our notion of time expands when we pay close attention to details: being mindful! On the other hand, time seems to compress itself when we’re attempting to multi-task or when we’re rushing through our day.
I’m happy to have the Benedictine tool of mindfulness at my disposal. Now putting it to practice!
If you’re a mother or interested in time or mindfulness I’d love to hear from you!
Today felt like it was my birthday, but better, when I woke up with childly excitement. 40 Days I have waited for this day to come again. Just beautiful to realise that Jesus can do for me what I can never do for myself. Give me new life!
Happy Easter everybody! The Lord is truly risen!
Here’s a short animated video of the Easter story for kids or grown-ups ;-)
The final week of Lent started yesterday on Palm Sunday.
This week I look forward to ‘reliving’ the events leading up to Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.
Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the waiting on Saturday and the glory of Easter Sunday!