Week 1: Being present


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’.


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.


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!’



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Snailmail revival

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.

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!


Love, Ester

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!

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

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!!)

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…

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.

More ‘Zen’ in my productivity

Lately I have been slowly moving away from GTD towards something else, a more simplistic and ‘zen’-approach if you like.

The GTD Weekly Review was taking me more and more time to perform.
Why? Because I had just so much input for it. Especially my input for the Someday/Maybe-list got so overwhelming that I could not cope with the information stream anymore.
I was feeling like I was locked up in a tredmill going nowhere and I found out I had become an information-addict! Scared to miss out on the latest and the loudest, in fear of making the wrong choices of where to put my focus on.

What were my solutions to this feeling of impending doom?

Information Bankrupcy

I declared an information-bankrupcy by rigorously cutting back on my information sources:

  •  I am done capturing every nice shop or brand I want to check out on the web and putting them all in my Someday/Maybe-list for follow-up. I’m ashamed to say had become a slave to my ‘wants‘, a slave even to commercialism. I was reacting, not creating…
  •  I pruned my facebook and twitter contacts and declared total rss-reader bankrupcy.
  • I have been (re)reading Leo Babauta‘s books. ‘the Power of Less‘, ‘Focus‘ and I will also have a look into ‘Un-procrastinate‘. His views on living life mindfully, simply and fulfilling have greatly inspired me! Check his websites: Zenhabits and Power of less.

The Power of Less

I use Leo’s approach by working on 1-3 important things each day and simply list them each evening.
This keeps my head clear, my goals realistic and my focus strong. Leo Babauta is even moving to a goalless day at the moment. I know that life is so quicksilvery and fragile, I can make all the plans I want, but when I go with the flow and am flexible, yet not procrastinating, things get done in a far more easygoing, fluid way. Rigidity and complexity can frustrate things unnecessarily. ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’… (cliche but true).

Waiting For list

I keep using the ‘Waiting For’-list. It’s still an awesome GTD tool.
I write the date and the person or organization who owes me: money, a reply, goods, a call or whatever and I occasionally look at the list. Voila, easy does it.


For Someday/Maybe stuff I use Evernote.
This is very convenient for me. My favorite things to clip off of internet are: quotes and nice pictures for moodboards or blog entries. Also I can easily clip info from different pages into evernote and compare for a quick but informed purchase decision. I don’t like to spend too much time on comparing stuff, but I also want to make a good (not perfect) choice. Just like the bike I bought recently.

Nothing beats pen and paper

For my daily lists I use good ol’ pen and paper (I have to admit that I even got rid of Nozbe, which I really liked at first and which I still think is a really good tool for GTD’ers, but too complex for my liking).
I am a stationary lover (not to say addict…) and I just love the tactile sensation of a Moleskine notepad with  my favorite pen: the Uniball Eye.

Simplifying things is making me feel reborn and renewed! More about simplicity, mindfulness and productivity in my coming blog-entries.

Tool #1 for simplifying my life:
I use a writing tool with the dodgy name of ‘Darkroom‘ (for Windows), which allows me to have a totally black screen with green writing without formatting for a focused and simple writing experience.
I highly recommend it.
For Mac-users there’s WriteRoom

If you like you can leave a comment below or find me on Twitter.