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:

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.


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.

Do it anyway!

It’s holiday time for me, which means I’m browsing through old photos and videos on my hard drive. Trip to memory lane…That’s where I found the video above. For me it symbolizes amongst other things the fact that I was scared stiff to sing in front of a packed church with all my friends and some family, but that I did it anyway. And I loved it!
It was an exhilarating experience for me!

I want to share this with you to encourage you people to do the same. Chase your dreams! Do it inspite of your fears!

Maybe you want to start a business, but fear failure. Do it anyway!
Maybe you’d like to do a presentation at work, but fear blackout. Do it anyway!
Maybe you want to write a book, but fear that it won’t be good enough. Do it anyway!
Maybe you want to dance at a party, but fear looking foolish. Do it anyway!
Maybe you want to do a flamenco, salsa or ballet presentation in a big theater, but fear failure. Do it anyway!

Maybe you want to get your butt out of bed, but are afraid of the day… afraid of failure… shame… looking foolish… not being good enough…

Get yourself together, take a deep breath, surround yourself with happy and positive things. Even pray if you can… Build your life on love and trust. Do it anyway!

God loves you just the way you are, you don’t have to be different, you are okay, you are amazing actually!

And now move your behind and get going!!!

For further clues on overcoming fears check out this wonderful blog post by Leo Babauta:
A guide to beating the fears that are holding you back.

Please leave a comment or leave me a tweet. Thank you!

p.s. the video was shot on the 7th of May 2006, at the service of the public confession of my faith in the Oosterparkkerk Amsterdam. It was a year after I became a Christian.

The song is by Day of Fire – Cornerstone.

See lyrics here.

Be a one girl revolution!

This is a post for all you ladies out there!!!!

Let’s unite, stand together and be strong!

Cuz’ we are smart, beautiful and powerful and we won’t let that nagging voice inside of us tell us otherwise! Or other people for that matter.

We can start a positive revolution right now. We will take over the world in boldness and love.  Confidence in insecurity! We rock!!!

One girl revolution

I wear a disguise
I’m just your average Jane
The super doesn’t stand for model
But that doesn’t mean I’m plain
If all you see is how I look
You miss the super chick within
And I christen you titanic underestimate and swim

And I’ll be everything that I wanna be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

And I’m a one girl revolution

I’m a one girl revolution
I’m a one girl revolution

Some people see the revolution but most only see the girl
I can lose my hard earned freedom if my fear defines my world
I declare my independence from the critics and their stones
I can find my revolution I can learn to stand alone…

And I’ll be everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world…

And I’m a one girl revolution

I’m a one girl revolution
I’m a one girl revolution

(And I’m a one girl revolution

I’m a one girl revolution

And I’m a one girl revolution)

And I’ll be everything that I wanna be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

Everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

Everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

And I’m a one girl revolution
I’m a one girl revolution

Song: One girl revolution – Superchick

Youtubeclip is taken from the 2006 movie Stick it.

If you are a superchick give a shout out below in the comments section or find me on Twitter!

Travelling light

I just returned from an amazing trip to London, where my favorite and only sister is living with her fiancé.

This city enthralls me, excites me and at the same time gives me a great sense of peace.

It’s great to be able to spend precious time with my sister and brother-in-law-to-be as well as enjoying the courteous English people who never cease to amaze me with their friendly unasked advice when they catch you struggling to hold a fumbled tourist map on the double-decker bus.

I’m also loving the Anglican churches around London which I try to visit every day to get my spiritual food (figuratively and literally). I found out — to my surprise — that those churches are even present on Twitter nowadays.

On past visits I used to drag this enormous suitcase to London, which is a total pain because  London tube stations are mostly surrounded by steep staircases, unsuitable for disabled people, or even tourists dragging excess baggage

I must pause and correct myself in all honesty here – on my way there I used to drag a ginormous empty suitcase…to fill it up with heaps of newly purchased clothing from the Monsoon’s season sale. So, on the way back it would cost me a lot of stress to carry it around with me, it being way too heavy.

This time was different though:

I travelled light and left my excess baggage at home as well as at Monsoon, feeling rested and peaceful and keeping my credit card happy at the same time with the positive side-effect of frugality, because there is a cosmic rule that says: what you don’t buy, you don’t get to hurl around on the London tube.

How did I travel light?

  • I left all my toiletries at home and plundered my sister’s bathroom instead.
  • I took only one changing of clothes (but enough underwear!) with me and only wore the trousers I had on me.
  • I took only half the portions of my regular vitamin pills with me.
  • My final and best secret was: taking my Amazon Kindle (E-reader) with me for the first trip ever. I tell you why it is such a nifty device for light travellers:
    1. It’s got my 1200-ish page Bible on it
    2. It’s got my 1000-ish page Book of Common Prayer on it
    3. It can store a stunning 1500 books (as well as pdf’s) if you like
    4. I can take all my blogs with me via the file I can drag from www.instapaper.com to my Kindle
    5. It is the size of a dvd and weighs only as much as one regular paperback book.

Now I found there’s a spiritual parallel to this story as well:

What kind of excess baggage do you carry around with you?

  • Is it your past, your childhood?
  • Is it the grudge you hold against someone?
  • Is it fear or anxiety?
  • Is it a secret you don’t dare to confess to anyone?
  • Is it stress, fretfulness?
  • Is it shame or guilt about things you did or things you didn’t do?
  • Is it the shreds of lost dreams?
  • Is it the bits and pieces of a shattered self-image?
  • Is it your distorted view of God?
  • Is it the memory of lost lovers?

I dare you: let go, be in the present moment and travel light through life.

The power of words

Here’s a beautiful and profound piece by Henri Nouwen, from Bread of the Journey, as an introductory on today’s topic: using creative versus destructive words

Words, words, words. Our society is full of words: on billboards, on television screens, in newspapers and books. Words whispered, shouted, and sung. Words that move, dance, and change in size and color. Words that say, “Taste me, smell me, eat me, drink me, sleep with me,” but most of all, “buy me.” With so many words around us, we quickly say: “Well, they’re just words.” Thus, words have lost much of their power.

Still, the word has the power to create. When God speaks, God creates. When God says, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, “I love you,” and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage. When we say, “I hate you,” we can destroy another person. Let’s watch our words.

What influence do you have with your words?

Is it creative, life-giving, encouraging, hopeful? Do you give praise, give positive feedback, say loving words, say kind words, do you create encouraging pieces of writing like blogging, noveling or poetry?

Or are you mostly lured by the temptation to be destructive with your words; do you gossip, slander, say denigrating words, say hateful words, use sarcasm or cynicism, or do you disclose other people’s secrets or give a lot of negative feedback?

Here’s a proposition to cut back on your negative words and increase your positive verbal expressions in 4 weeks:

  1. Week 1: Just tally marks every day on a notepad, noting the amount of times you used your words destructively and how many times creatively and kindly. This is just to make you aware of what you’re doing before changing your behavior.
  2. Week 2: This week’s challenge will be to daily replace two bad words  with two positive encouraging or creative words. Keep notes everyday and reward yourself with kind words or by doing something you love. Positive feedback for yourself is important!
  3. Week 3: This week focus solely on eliminating gossiping, because that is one of the most destructive uses of words. You damage other people as well as your own soul. Here’s the solution: put a rubber band on your right wrist. Every time you gossip or gossip along with somebody at home or at work you put the rubber band to your left wrist and after a positive remark you can place it back again, the goal being to keep it always on the right wrist. Quitting gossiping can be quite daunting, especially when you tell people you don’t want to talk about anybody else behind their back anymore and you could be perceived as a killjoy or a spoilsport. Just think about it: people will respect you more for your integrity in the end and you will have a clear conscience.
  4. Week 4: In this last week I want you to play with words and experience their creative usage. Write, blog, write a poem, write a tiny letter to your spouse and put it — with a hint of perfume — on his pillow, journal, write down beautiful verses of Scripture or poems with a nifty pen with lavender ink, play, enjoy, be spontaneous, be creative!

Now you are further along the path of kindness and love than most people around you probably will be .

And if you fall back again: say kind words to yourself and try again 😉

Are we enslaved to productivity?

We live in a high tech information Society, trying to drink from a firehose of information — as David Allen so vividly put it — consuming blogs, twitter updates, facebook statuses, RSS feeds, podcasts, books…
We’re also expected to crank out tasks at an equally dense rate. We write, we blog, we work, we construct, we devise, we plan, we toil, we sweat. It seems never enough.

Leo Babauta writes in the Power of Less:

‘ There has never been an age in whick we could get so much done so quickly. (…) There has also never been an age in which we were so stressed by the incredible demands of our lives’.

This rises the question:

Are we really enslaved to productivity?

Let me share a story with you:
Today I listened to the Daily Audio Bible podcast and had a major BFO (a Blinding Flash of the Obvious!) When I heard the story of the people of Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt.
The people of Israel had been enslaved to Pharaoh of Egypt, being forced into labouring daily, building bricks. One day they asked time off to sacrifice to their God. To numb that inclination, Pharaoh let them work even harder. He decreed that they had to produce even more in less time.
And here was the kicker:’ You shall by no means reduce your number of bricks’, he said.

And isn’t that story not the story of our lives too?
Let’s pretend we are the people of Israel and Pharaoh is our inner slavedriver egging us on to produce more, more, more, every day, by no means reducing our number of bricks, i.e. tasks.

We make resolutions that won’t stick as well as we hoped for; stuck in the rut of productivity. This could be a hope-less life.

But, to quote Jamie Haith of Holy Trinity Brompton church:

‘Rules, regulations, resolutions, they don’t bring hope. We are in need of a Savior, one who is right here and able to save us (…) we need the kindness and love of Jesus’.

So instead of exhausting ourselves on the productivity treadmill we need hope.

‘Hope is not about what isn’t. Hope is always about what isn’t yet.’(www.incourage.me).

Speedily we work on our endless to-do lists or even worse: our heads are crammed with to-do items, what-ifs, someday-maybe’s or fretful busyness. We immerse ourselves in the treadmill of frantic activity, not to — I guess — feel the emptiness of our existence.

My wish for you is to enjoy being productive, in the flow, in the present moment and get to know the One who is the embodiment of hope itself.
Have a hopeful day!

Can we design our own lives?

Today, as I was lolling about, being sprawled all over the couch, I started pondering the progress of my goals for 2010, but one recurring question kept lingering in my head:

Can we design our own lives?

Judging by my previous blogs, you’d say: Yes.

However healthy it seems to me to set goals, make new year’s resolutions, plot charts and generally try harder at everything and be ambitious, there’s a flipside to that coin of control. Not to dash any of your hopes up front– on the contrary — but we all have to face the fact that not everything is makeable by our own hands and brains.

  • Here’s an inspiring quote from one of my favorite authors: Henri J.M. Nouwen, I want to share with you:

Enough Light for the Next Step

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?” There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let’s rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away.

Henri J.M. Nouwen -Bread for the Journey

I just love how this spiritual teacher conveys his wisdom to us: the picture of us carrying tiny little lights for our paths is just wonderful. So if we just take life moment by moment, step by step, we could get to great lengths while being happy and peaceful at the same time. Moreover, light also brings joy and love to our little spheres of influence, blessing others with it as well.

  • Another one of my inspirators Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits explained on the GTD Virtual Study Group podcast of the 14th of January that he’s abandoning setting goals altogether, and is just going with the flow, doing everyday what he loves best.

Isn’t his advice very similar to Nouwen’s in a way? Just go from moment to moment, being fully aware and present in every one of them. If you daily do what excites you and inspires you, not looking too far into the future, you’ll live a simple and happy life and inspire and encourage others at the same time.

But is it really that simple?

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.

You can plan all you want, but in the end there’s a power greater than us Who decides which plans are being fulfilled.

Just enjoy the ride, plan, but remember to go with the flow.