Minimalism ‘fast’

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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)

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Week 2 of Advent: Practicing Gratitude

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image by Karen Salmansohn

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.

So this week no tutorial from me of how to declutter your house or track your finances, but a heart felt nudge to keep it simple and just be kind and be grateful this season. Just be.

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In honour of just being, and to set my intention on being grateful, I started a little Instagram Advent Gratitude ‘project’ with the hashtags:

#monthofgratitude #adventintentions on simple_inspired.

If you’re an  ‘instagrammer’ too, please use the hashtags as well, so we can be inspiring each other.

May you be happy, healthy and at ease today.

Peace!

Week 1: Being present

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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’.

Meditation

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!

At Andy’s website, I found a good definition of meditation:

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.

Yoga

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!’

Peace!

Ester

Continue reading

New Advent series: Back to Basics

by Ester Fleurke
image by Ester Fleurke

Indulging or Simplifying?

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”
  • house: decluttering
  • 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.

Hope to see you then,

Peace!

Ester

The Mindful Mother

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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.

1)
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.

2)
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).

3)
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!

40 Day Devotional: Day 9: Simple Living

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From maisonboheme.blogspot.com

At the end of a working week, before the weekend starts and the hustle and bustle of life winds down a little bit, but social commitments are awaiting us, it’s nice to stand still and soak up some sound and simple advice like the above.

To consider: What do I really NEED to do this weekend? It might be less than I think. PAUSE and BREATHE for a moment, then let go of some of the things you planned.

To try: Pick one or two of the suggestions in the above image you haven’t tried before and give it a go this weekend.

Let me know what you found out!

Peace

40 Day Devotional: Day 19: Spending wisely

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via Zenhabits

 

New International Version (©2011)

Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money

This afternoon I spent budgeting and tracking my finances. This thorough watching of my finances is new to me this year, because I was “leaking” money by subtly overspending on certain things.

I want to take ownership of my finances and make well-informed decisions about where I spend my money, in order to be able to give and be a good steward of the money God has entrusted me with.

Here’s an article with awesome tips from – again- Leo Babauta from Zenhabits.

How I save money (in 16 tips)

Be inspired!

40 Day Devotional: Day 20: Facebook Fasting

Image“And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

Matthew 6:16 NLT

When reading the above text, I can opt to keep it a secret what I’ve been trying to change for Lent: spending less time on social networks like Facebook, to be able to create more time and space for creating, praying, meditating and living

Nevertheless I am sharing about it, to show you that you don’t die from cutting back on time consuming potentially addictive sites like Facebook. On the contrary.

I’ve been fasting Facebook for Lent for four weeks now. For me that means:

  • not scrolling through the newsfeed like a zombie (ok once in a while my eye might fall on the top story but THAT’S IT)
  • going on it only once every 3 or 4 days to check for private messages
  • using it as a tool to promote my blogposts to my audience (I do that by autoposting, which means I don’t have to open Facebook at all to do that)
  • scrolling quickly through my “notifications” (like I said: only every 3 or 4 days) to see if there’s something I might want to actually react to (instead of opening every single notification)

I think it’s been a success so far, I have been keeping this Daily Devotional up and I am sure I would have had a way harder time to accomplish that (among other things), if I would have been on Facebook, to scratch the unhealthy “I HAVE TO CHECK FACEBOOK NOW!!” urge.

In fact, I like this so much more than the way I used to go on Facebook and linger there and get lost and/or checking it compulsively ten times a day, that I don’t want to go back to my old ways.

Are you inspired to cut back too?

Read this post by Leo Babauta from Zenhabits:

Walled-in: Life without Facebook

or

A survival guide for beating information addiction

Enjoy!

Peace.

40 Day Devotional: Day 21: Going to bed good

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After a good day of rising early comes the challenge of going to bed good.

Psalm 4:8

When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace;

you alone, O Lord, keep me perfectly safe.

When I ask God at night to guard me at night with his Holy Spirit and his angels, I find I have fewer nightmares and sleep better. How awesome! I also started the habit of meditating 5 minutes before bed. This puts me in a very good place too! Tuned in to God and his peace.

Need some practical advice on how to make a habit of sleeping “like a baby”?

Check out Leo Babauta’s article here. It rocks!

Wishing you a peaceful night in God’s hand.