Snailmail revival

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By Ester Fleurke

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!

Exciting!

Love, Ester

P.s.
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!

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PMS-Survival Plan

Dear ladies,

Know that you are not alone when suddenly you want to rip someone’s head of, kick in a door, scream at your hubbie or are in puddles when you see a dead bird on the street, when all you wanna do is lie in bed, feel sorry for yourself or binge on all things sugar….and feel like a bloated hippo afterward.

Every month, a week before the Flo hits us, we become bitchy, bawling beasts: doctors call it simply: PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome), but with us and our significant others it is also known as:

Pretty Much Screwed
Potentially More Scary
Pouting, Moaning & Sleepy
Period Men Suffer
Poor Me Syndrom

On a more serious note, there’s also a more severe version of PMS called PMDD: Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder*, where PMS really starts to interfere with your work, home or health. Sort of: PMS on steroids.
Symptoms include:

  • markedly depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts
  • marked anxiety, tension, feelings of being “keyed up” or “on edge”
  • marked affective lability (e.g., feeling suddenly sad or tearful or increased sensitivity to rejection)
  • persistent and marked anger or irritability or increased interpersonal conflicts
  • decreased interest in usual activities (e.g., blogging, household, friends, hobbies)
  • subjective sense of difficulty in concentrating
  • lethargy, easy fatigability, or marked lack of energy
  • marked change in appetite, overeating, or specific food cravings (sugar)
  • hypersomnia or insomnia
  • a subjective sense of being overwhelmed or out of control
  • other physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness or swelling, headaches, joint or muscle pain, a sensation of bloating,” weight gain*

Even though with ‘regular PMS’ you have somewhat milder symptoms than the ones above: This ‘ain’t no fun’!

But there is hope, my sister!

After having been completely harrassed by the PMS-monster for the umptieth time, I decided it was time for action! (do you also hear ‘Eye of the Tiger’ playing or is that just my imagination?)

I turned the internet upside down and read a lot of stories from women with the same experiences as me.
Here are my suggestions for you! Take what you like and leave the rest.

  • STOP – take a breath
  • Pray for help / meditate
  • Awareness Acceptance and Surrender!
  • Try and enjoy a moment for yourself
  • Track your pms-symptoms on a pms-tracker online and put a reminder on the estimated first day of your pms.
  • Take it easy on the sugar and flour, ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE
  • Dress nicely even if you don’t feel like it.
  • Only one cup of coffee a day, if you’re a regular coffee-gourmet like me
  • Take candle-lit baths, loads of them: with organic or natural products or with essential oils like lavender to soothe and calm, or citrussy stuff like orange, red mandarin, grapefruit or bergamot to lift your mood**
  • Stick to your daily routines even more now. You need structure to keep you sane. You can find wonderful, empowering and heartwarming tips from Flylady on the internet. ‘Fly’ stands for Finally Loving Yourself.
  • Talk to other women to vent your emotions and don’t throw it all on your significant other / hubbie or journal.
  • Place your expectations of yourself way lower for this period of time.
  • Get some fresh air AND MOVE (dog-walking is awesome).
  • Don’t handle difficult stuff: just postpone it if possible and put a reminder for your post period days to make an important decision or change.
  • Play! Be creative: draw self-encouraging images or texts on paper, do origami for beginners, sew something easy and fun, read calming, inspiring books or websites.
  • Stick to a healthy diet: lots of veggies, fruit, protein, complex carbs, and good fats (with healthy omegas*).
  • Cuddle dog or bunnies, any animal is fine als long as it is soft and cuddly. (I mean, don’t try this with your goldfish).
  • Listen to upbeat or calming music (no depressing stuff please.)
  • Watch funny movies. Here’s a list.

Let me know what works for you!

Leave a comment below, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Don’t forget:

And this is for the men:

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Zen bathing ‘lush-iousness’

The mountain has been moved!! Cause we have!
Now living in a wonderful spacious home, I get so inspired to live my new uncluttered, simple, happy and grateful life.
I know material things don’t make me happy, but it’s the seeming absence of them that makes me so.
The next weeks I will take you through the ‘zenifying‘ process (if I may use or abuse that term respectfully) of my home sweet home.

The first tip I want to share with you is how I went from being an exhausted house-mover, box-unpacker, mess-organiser to a content, mindful, rested and reasonably sane individual.
Here are the 2 key ingredients:

#1
After hitting my toe against a box, being grumpy to my dear hubbie and being crazy with exhaustion, I ran a tub full of water, stepped in, popped a Lush Bath Ballistic in it and bathed (what a luxury to even have a tub at all!!)
I even did some breathing meditation…
But!… It was no ordinary bath ball! It was the Big Blue:
Read with me and shiver with pleasure and ‘zen-ness’.

Lemon, lavender and seaweed for clear thoughts. Have you ever hankered for a minimalist space with plain walls, wooden floors, no mess, no clutter and no distractions? Escape into a world of pure, uncluttered thought by dropping a Big Blue into the bath. Lemon and lavender oils help to clear your mind, complete with skin-softening seaweed and sea salt to help you float away in your own warm, blue ocean of inspiration. (Lush)

Aaaahhh, only reading these promises beforehand made my sorry mind calmer already.

#2
Sleep

Do try this at home and tell me what you think of it!
Do you have any more ‘zen’ bathing tips?

Drop me a line in the comment section or tweet me.

3 tips for relaxed, green and fun moving

Ever since I was a small girl, I dreamt of this life: a knight in bright shining armor, a farm of guinea pigs and a beautiful princess castle with a big rose garden.

At 34, I’ve come to a point where I get to lead this life for real! Ok, admittedly my handsome knight has no shining armor but dresses in casual clothing, the guinea pig farm has turned out to be a very sweet dog and two rabbits and the castle is a beautiful two storey house, a real home for me and my family (I count my pets also as my family of course).

So, now that we got this dream house, there’s the unavoidable hurdle – or challenge – of MOVING!!

On the 9th of July we’ll be moving out of our old 1 bedroom lower ground apartment! I’ve moved quite a few times over the past 16 years: I believe this will be my 9th or 10th within Amsterdam alone.

My past experiences with it have been so stressful, but this time I’m learning to live one day at a time and that takes the pressure off quite a bit.
Also, this time around I will be moving TOGETHER with my fabulous handyman-carpenter-gardener-painter-whole driller-wall filler-money accounting-drop dead gorgeous husband, who of course takes a lot of work out of my hands so I can concentrate on doing what I do best: decluttering my stuff and packing it.(oh..and buying a lot of nice new or second hand things for the house…) and revamping old furniture.

3 Tips for  relaxed, green, social and fun moving and furnishing

#1
Do the stuff YOU do best and ask your friends, family, friendly coworkers, husband/partner and others to come and help you with things THEY are good at and give them a chance to shine.
For example: my dad is an excellent furniture upholsterer and he makes great carpet linings for staircases, so we asked him for that.

Others have ample muscle power and are glad to help you with carrying boxes in and out of the van and heaving them to the attic.

Be sure though to provide for loads of tea, coffee, lemonaded water, sandwiches and succulent homemade apple-pie (my hubbie makes a great one!!)

#2
Buy used furniture from a second hand store and paint it and treat it with a nice redoing of the fabrics. It is so much fun to go hunting for what you need and conjuring up creative plans to revamp the furniture, whilst being green&sustainable by giving it a second life.
Sandpapering and painting are very mindful stress reducing activities and there’s no hurry because you can also sit on the other chairs while you’re redoing one of them. One chair at a time…

#3
Get up in the morning, think about what you are inspired about and go do just that. Being excited about your task or challenge is a good way to beat procrastinating and leaking a lot of valuable energy to resisting tasks.

Yesterday I got in a decluttering frenzy. It’s like a snowball, once it’s rolling it’s unstoppable and I declutter effortlessly. Once I sit down, the magic of the flow is gone and I have to rest and then build momentum for the next amazing thing to do#
Stay in the moment, stay in the day.

The last important thing I want to share with you today: drink a coffee in the morning and don’t forget to laugh about the things that unavoidably don’t go according to  plan! Don’t take moving house so seriously…..let alone yourself!

Please leave a comment below, ask questions or give me suggestions for new topics. You can also do that on Twitter.

# if you want to know more about this way of living life, read Focus by Leo Babauta.