Stop – Take a Breath


Balance, mindfulness, serenity, clarity, sanity…they were having a vacation at the beginning of this week.
What made them come back?

Take a breath and hand it over

Lately I have been haunted by a feeling of lack of time, life slipping through my fingers. I was browsing to much aimless minutes and hours on the internet without creating something, I felt dry inside.

Then I applied the S.T.O.P.- technique: Step back, Take a breath, Observe and Proceed. I noticed my feelings by being mindful of them: I felt restless, irritable, discontent, tired and emotional.

Hurry keeps you away from feeling, emotionally and physically. The body is slow, feeling takes time. –

Rob Brandsma

I handed them over to my Higher Power whom I call God. I parked it at his Divine parking lot and waited for answers on what to change.
I started cutting down on my aimless browsing and devoted that time to creating, which made me feel more spiritually alive

Park your guilt elsewhere

Yet a feeling of guilt about accomplishing too little in a week kept nagging me, thereby locking me in a vicious circle of blocking even more.

Over the years I noticed that fear (false evidence appearing real) and guilt (go under in lame thoughts) never brought me anywhere except in misery and life block (an insidious variation on the famous writer’s block). They also lead me into my dreaded enemies procrastination and his comrade fear of failing….
This is what I did: I acknowledged my guilt, parked it again in the Mighty parking lot and waited as patiently as I could.

Rest!

One important thing was bugging me: a feeling of exhaustion.
I can be succinct about what I did about it: If I feel physically tired: I REST. It helped to clear the sky in a very lovely way. I had a siesta of a whooping 3 hours this afternoon. What a luxury!

I slowed down, became mindful: also by rigourously single-tasking, handed over the guilt and monkey busy-ness, started to create again and took it easy, so things really shifted for me today. I feel more rested, more clear-headed, more serene, more connected to what’s good and wise and I am more happy.

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Zen dog

My dog Kiara is my mindfulness teacher. I’ll tell you why!
In her cute little doggie universum, all that counts is the here and the now.

  1. She doesn’t even think about the past, although I adopted her from Canary Islands and she didn’t have a past of roses and doggiebones.
  2. The thing that makes her most happy is being together with her two bosses Martin and Ester. When the pack is complete she goes bonkers with joy!
  3. When she is tired she naps.
  4. She loves routines and cosy dogbaskets or fluffy pillows.
  5. She doesn’t think about the future much, that I know of anyway…
  6. She certainly does not care about what other people may think of her!

Yesterday it all came together:
Martin, Kiara and I went upstairs to our guest/study/movie-room to watch the BBC documentary ‘Life’. As we lay on the guest bed, Kiara snuggled tightly between our legs and went into a deep doggie meditated relaxation. Snout down in the pillows and blankies.
It was so peaceful for us: the documentary, the cosy relaxed dog, romantic us. Really simple life, mindful en enjoying every minute!

Please leave a comment below or tweet me, I’d really appreciate that. What do you do to be mindful and have a simple life?

If you’re Dutch, check out my Dutch blog Groen en Lief.

Related post: about me and my rabbits: ” The spiritual power of next action thinking”.

The drawing is from awesome artist Edward Monkton. Do visit his site!

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.

The Little Way

Therese de Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897) is one of the greatest Saints from the 19th century. She received a very early call from God to be a Carmelite nun, which she was from her 15th till her 24th year, when she died a tuberculosis-death.

She was also called by the modest name of The Little Flower of Jesus, emblematic of her humility, her purity and her simplicity.

“Our Lord has deigned to make me understand that by simple obedience I shall please Him best”

I am very intrigued by her short but Jesus-seeking and –loving life of simple spirituality and servanthood.

Therese felt all along that she was destined to become a Saint and this is what she said about it:

“Instead of being discouraged, I concluded that God would not inspire desires which could not be realised, and that I may aspire to sanctity in spite of my littleness. For me to become great is impossible. I must bear with myself and my many imperfections; but I will seek out a means of getting to Heaven by a little way – very short and very straight, a little way that is wholly new.”

The depth and novelty of her spirituality, called the theology of the little way has inspired many believers around the world.

In Wikipedia we read about the Little Way:

Thérèse is known for her “way of confidence and love”[44], commonly known as “The Little Way”. In her quest for sanctity, she believed that it was not necessary to accomplish heroic acts, or “great deeds”, in order to attain holiness and to express her love of God. She wrote,

“Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.”

So the little way for Therese didn’t consist of being martyred for Christ’s sake, but instead of  dying to her flesh, making sacrifices daily, leading a holy everyday life to please her beloved Lord of Lords: Jesus Christ of Nazareth and to love others as herself.

“Now I have no desire left, unless it be to love Jesus even unto folly! It is Love alone that draws me.”

She performed hidden acts of kindness for her Sisters, for which only Jesus could praise her.

She led a very simple life among her Sisters, she prayed, she worked; she struggled everyday struggles of dry spells in her spirituality, doubt, fear, irritation with her Sisters. But she always came back to Jesus to walk with Him.

At last I want to mention the Little Way approach to prayer. This is what she said about it:

“For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me.”

In this blog I want to encourage you as well as myself to look for that little way to lead a holier life.

I am inspired by Therese to live a holier life, by:

  • praying from my heart directly to Jesus
  • performing simple acts of kindness to people
  • living a more sober and simple life with less posessions and desire for materialistic things
  • letting go daily of pride and striving to be humble
  • being pure and be myself
  • not gossiping

The pursuit of a holy life is such an adventure and I want to take you along.


I want to thank Father Roderick @  http://fatherroderick.sqpn.com/ and Gretchen Rubin @ http://www.happiness-project.com/ for telling me about Therese’s book: The Story of A Soul through them.

You can buy The Story of A Soul by St. Therese de Lisieux on Amazon or Bol.com (for Dutch readers)