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!

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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

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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

40 Day Devotional: Happy Easter!

Hallelujah!
cake made by the vd Heide family

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 😉

He is risen- youtube video.

Thank you for following the 40 Day Devotional series, it was a pleasure to write them, stay tuned for other content on how to live a simple, inspired, spiritual, organized and creative life.

Wishing you peace on your day!

Ester

40 Day Devotional: Day 7: Holy Week

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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!

I started a real cool Holy week video devotional yesterday, called The Artists Bible
Click the following link to join:
YouVersion Bible app for Android

Or find it on YouTube:
Watch “”Matthew 21:12-15” – Keith Ellingson – The Artist Bible” on YouTube

This was yesterday’s video (Palm Sunday themed)
Watch “”Matthew 21:1-11” – Rockwagon – The Artists Bible

40 Day Devotional: Day 8: Praying in color

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Today I feel especially creative and colorful and I googled ‘praying and drawing’.

Then I found this AWESOME website I want to share with you today!

God made us in all colors and shapes and therefore we can pray in all colors and shapes and forms and manners too. God has a sense of humour too!

Here goes:

Praying in Color = prayer + d o o d l i n g

When multiple friends and family members received ugly and scary diagnoses, Sybil MacBeth found herself exhausted by the words of her prayers and stymied by a lack of focus. One summer day, she retreated to her back porch for a session of mindless doodling with a basket of her favorite colored markers. She drew a shape, put the name of a friend inside, and added lines and color. She drew another shape with another name and added detail and color. When the page was covered with designs and names, Sybil realized she had prayed. The action of drawing was a wordless offering of friends and family into the care of God. The page of drawings became a visual reminder to pray. This was the beginning of Praying in Color.

Here are some reasons to Pray in Color:

1) You want to pray but words escape you. 2) Sitting still and staying focused in prayer are a challenge.

3) Your body wants to be part of your prayer.

4) You want to just hang out with God but don’t know how.

5) Listening to God feels like an impossible task .

6) Your mind wanders and your body complains.

7) You want a visual, concrete way to pray.

8) You Need a new way to pray.

Here’s what you need to get started:
1) Paper
2)  Pen
3) Colored markers or colored pencils or colored gel pens
4) A table or clipboard or book to put your paper on.

If you want to read more on how to get started:

go to the website:

prayingincolor.com

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelations 4:11)

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40 Day Devotional: Day 10: Free as a bird!

ImageThis afternoon, while I was walking my dog in the cold winter sunshine, we came along some trees and bushes in the neighbourhood and there were a variety of birds cheerfully singing! One female magpie was even making her nest high up in one of those trees!

I got an instant Spring foreboding, inspite of the cold. I felt grateful and free!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …

 (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

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