One of my favourite podcasts is “Chasing Joy” by Georgie Morley and that was where I got the inspiration to write this post. At the end of each podcast episode, Georgie asks to their guests the following question:“What is something that is bringing you joy lately?”. As someone who have always loved to know what makes people tick and what makes their truly happy, I am always eager to hear the answers.
Because listening to what people answer always leaves me thinking about what is bringing me joy at the moment, I thought I would ask myself this question and share the answer with you in this post. I apologise in advance for not being able to stick to only one thing. I got a bit carried away and ended up with a list of 10 different things instead. Oops.
This is just one of those good questions that imply self-reflection. Something I find very important and make time for every now and then. So, without further ado, here are the 10 things that are bringing me joy lately:
Doing Yoga. This practice not only brings me joy but also peace. Peace to my mind and body.
Being able to keep my house plants alive and seeing them slowly growing. I hope I won’t jinx it by saying this lol. After managing to kill 3 cacti (and countless other plants), I guess it was about time to finally be able to keep some of them alive, don’t you think? I feel like this is one of those life achievements that makes me feel like I am succeeding at this thing called “adulting” haha.
Going for a spontaneous walk in the nature with the boyfriend.
Handmade ceramics. A pure work of art.
The days getting longer and longer as Summer approaches
More ethical and sustainable purchases
Reading before bed. The act of swapping my phone/laptop for a good book just before going to bed comes now so effortlessly to me and
Journaling, especially first thing in the morning.
Getting creative in the kitchen and feeling inspired to cook new recipes.
Exploring a new cafe nearly every weekend. As an avid cafe hopper this is naturally something that brings me so much joy and that I am always looking forward to doing.
Now, I would like to invite you to share in the comment section below what is currently bringing you joy! As the curious person by nature that I am, I’d absolutely love to know!!
I know, I know it is nearly June and Easter is long gone but.. I still would like to share some pictures and captions about this holiday since it held some real special moments! So let’s get straight into it 🙂
Because the company I work at gave us this paid day off, my Easter weekend started earlier. This was not only great but also much appreciated given the fact that at that point in time I was running on fumes. It was such a beautiful day of Spring. The sun was shinning and the weather was incredibly warm. I bought myself two bunches of gorgeous flowers and I also got to wear one of my favourite floral-print dresses. All in all, pretty simple things that make my soul very happy.
This day off gave me the perfect opportunity to go to a cafe, sit down and devote some time to writing. This is something that brings me peace and makes me feel grounded, especially when I am loaded down with work and have a lot on my mind.
Even though I love this cafe vibes, staff and overall service, I do not get to come here often because is a bit far from my house. Thus, I was so happy I could use my time off work to pay a visit.
Firstly, I ordered a cappuccino with unsweetened soya milk. Despite being a coffee lover, I try to avoid drinking it at weekends due to my (oftentimes slightly exaggerated) caffeine intake during the working week. One of the reasons why I love to come to this cafe in particular is because they have this freshly brewed coffee, whose beans they roast and grind there, with a really low caffeine percentage. It tastes just like regular coffee. Plus, everyone working at the cafe seems to have proper barista skills. The cappuccinos are always perfectly served with beautiful latte art on them.
I did some journaling whilst slowly sipping my delicious cappuccino and it was oh-so-lovely.
After doing my journaling, I decided to order a teapot of Oolong green tea and a vegan raw matcha and chocolate bar. This was a delicious focus booster and made me feel so inspired to write and just keep on writing some more. I lost track of time and ended up by staying at the cafe for nearly 3 hours.
Raw treat made of toasted nuts, dates, chocolate, coconut, chocolate, lemon and matcha. It was so good that I am tempted to make it myself at home 🙃
Back in January, I deliberately took the decision of reducing my weekly workouts for the balance of my mind and body. However, despite no longer working out on Fridays, I really felt like moving my body when I left the cafe. As I was quite close to my gym, I decided to go there for a 1-hour workout. I did some weight lifting and core exercises and I really enjoyed. I usually go to the gym for certain group classes (HIIT, strength training, body combat, etc..) but this doing this different workout on my own was exactly what I was craving. And it felt great in the body (and mind).
I am all for trying new things (like this one) that test and challenge our mind and body in a positive way. Though it is important to assess and understand why we do what we do. What it seems to be a positive habit may actually have a not so positive intention or drive behind. This is something I learnt as a result of falling into the habit of overexercising (obsessively and in an unealthy way) in the past and of experiencing its resulting negative effects both in my mental and physical health.
I have been making a continuous conscious effort since June 2018 to approach fitness (and everything it entails e.g. eating) with balance in mind. I have come to learn that if something makes you feel good, that does not necessarily mean that more is better.. and I guess that it is great to realise that nowadays I am able to exercise out of a palce of abudance, rather than of lack. It is so empowering to be able to move my body in a way that feels good; in a way that feels right and without overdoing it, you know? Anyway, sorry for digressing. Back to my Easter weekend.
So, after my gym session, I just went straight back home and cooked myself a good nourishing dinner. I actually felt inspired to try a new recipe that was on my list for a while.
How wonderful is it to feed our bodies with foods we enjoy whilst giving them the fuel and energy they so need to thrive?
This is the vegan version of a traditional Portuguese recipe (one of my fave actually) and was developed by @madebychoices . It is called Tofu à Brás (english name: tofu and mushrooms “à Brás”) and you can find right here It is soooo dang good and the ingredients could not be more simple! All you need is: sweet potato, leek, fresh coriander, mushrooms, white onion, firm tofu and a few spices and dried herbs. I did add green beans because I somehow seem to never be able to stick to a recipe haha For the perfect final touch, you should add black olives on top but sadly, I did not have them at the time. So, if you are keen to give this recipe a go, please make sure you have them at hand because I trust that they would make the dish even tastier!
I went to my usual Saturday morning gym class. This is a group class of strength training intercalated with cardio exercises that I particularly love. While it is true that a great sweat is guaranteed, I always end up by having great fun. It is impressive the fitness instructor makes these classes the most intense, enjoyable and entertaining!
Gym was then followed by a good shower, the usual house chores and a late lunch. I end up by eating late on Saturdays most of the times because I always like to clean and tidy up the house first. Only when that is done can I actually relax and sit down to enjoy my meal (and well enjoy the weekend for that matter). Does anyone can relate?
The boyfriend arrived just after lunch time. He knocked on my door and I opened it only to find him standing there with a bouquet of pink tulips (my favourite). This really was a lovely surprise. He also got me some super yummy chocolate. It might be cliché to receive flowers and chocolate but… after being in a long-distance relationship for several years straight, these lovely gestures really have extra meaning for me. Plus, it is impossible not to be over the moon with unexpected flowers and chocolate, right? He surely knows how to own this girl’s heart haha
Because a pretty cool looking spot with lots of outdoor seating had recently opened in my street, we decided to go there for the first time. We sat down in the bustling terrace and ordered a glass of prosecco and beer. The weather was absolutely perfect and we got to spend a great time soaking up some vitamin D and sharing laughs. What a well-spent afternoon.
Since the weather was still pretty warm when with we left the terrace, we decided to go for a short walk in the neighborhood. How I love to be surrounded by this greenery and boat houses so typical from The Netherlands.♥
After the sun setting down, we went back home and had a chilled evening in. I made my coconut chickpea curry (recipe here) for dinner and we just called it a day.
I used to spend Easter at my home country with my family up until the second year after I moved abroad. At that time, I was really busy with my Master Degree, priorities changed and… I guess that life just happened. I still make Christmas at a home a must but Easter is now usually spent in The Netherlands, which is where I live for over three years now. This does not mean that Easter stopped being about family for me or that it has lost its meaning. Not at all. Easter is still about gathering around the table with my family and sharing a nice home cooked meal (aka an unbeatable feast). It is still about waking up and starting to cook right way. It is still about spending hours at the table indulging in finger lickin’ good food, sharing funny stories and laughing out loud. It is still about going for a lovely walk all together in the late afternoon. It is still about valuing one another… and when it comes to all that, this year was no different. The thing is that it just involved less people and instead of talking with the fam in person, I talked with them over the phone. I still enjoyed it a whole lot. I still got to spend it doing the things I’d usually do and with someone who I dearly love: the boyfriend. I cooked us a brunch, we watched some episodes of Games of Thrones (since I was still stuck in season 3. shame on me, I know) and then we went for a sunny walk by the harbour near my house.
..and I finally nailed down a foolproof recipe for making the most ethereally smooth, creamy and dollop-ing hummus! Because this recipe is from the amazing @pickuplimes , all credits should actually go to her!
Anyway, it ended up by being a really special Easter because it was actually the very first time that my boyfriend and I got to spend it together. Also, I was more than happy to cook us an Easter brunch. This is mainly because I see cooking for other people, especially for my dear ones, as an act of nurturing. It is one of my favourite ways of showing my love and care. My boyfriend really praised me and showed his gratitude for the food I cooked, which made it all worth. Knowing that he really appreciates every time I cook a good (and well, sometimes not-so-good haha) hearty meal is a big motivator for me to keep on putting all my passion into creating and trying new recipes.
I had a very slow start to the week due to the Easter Monday. I let myself to natually wake up and made two waffles using chickpeas flour for breakfast. I topped one of them with fresh strawberries and caramel syrup* (shown in the picture below) and another one topped with dark tahini and a dash of cinnamon. I dellightfully ate them whilst writing my morning pages as per usual.
*just to clarify: this syrup is one of those that is calorie, sugar and fat free and despite not being a big fan of this kind of products that is also free of nutrients, I decided to give this one a try. The main reason for that is its really short ingredient list with no wacky names. It is good to complement my waffles toppings but not to replace them 😉
Even though I really enjoy working out in the morning, I only have the chance to do it on Saturdays due to my work schedule. So for that reason, I decided to use the fact that I did not have to go to work and went for a full-body workout gym class.
After that I went grocery shopping for the week and then went home, took a much needed shower and cooked myself a good nutritious lunch.
One task that sat on my to-do list for, let’s call it, ” a considerable amount of time” was to spring cleaning my wardrobe. Finally I got round to doing it! It was about time to give my closet a spring refresh.
Declutering my wardrobe turned out to be so freeing and somehow physically relieving. It was like purging physical stuff opened up something on the inside too, you know?
I think that this just goes to show how items take up both physical and mental space. I am a firm believer that physical space and mental space go hand-in-hand. Because by freeing up physical space we are also able to freeing up mental space, declutering leads to greater mental clarity. Thus, if you feel like your brain is in serious overdrive, clearing out your closet might just do the trick! It surelly did it for me.
I donated my clothes to charity with the hope that someone out there can give them a better use than I would. Plus, I find this to be a great way to recycle and to stop clothes from going to waste and end up in a landfill (a huge problem nowadays).
Also, now that I have done this spring cleaning to my wardrobe, I feel actually somewhat inspired to make the task of “mindfully decluttering” a more frequent thing in my life. I know I can only benefit from it because stuff I own but do not need can really take a toll in my mind.
As for the rest of my day, well I just relaxed, read a good book (picture below) and watched the movie “Mary Poppin returns”. Definitelly a classic fantasy/musical that made me feel nostalgic for my childhood.
All in all, a long weekend taken really easy. I hope you had a lovely Easter holiday/weekend filled with joy, love and good food!..and for those who do not celebrate it, I still hope you had a weekend filled with all those great things. ♥
Morning Pages. A keystone habit that is now part of my daily routine for over 10 months. Every morning I write down my thoughts, worries, to do lists, goals, exciting ideas, monthly/weekly/daily intentions and/or self-realizations. I basically put everything that is swirling around my mind on paper. I find this to be very liberating.
It is so important to create habits that build us up, bring us stillness and put us in a good headspace. Journaling does that for me. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle and forget what really matters. Living in such a fast paced world makes it easy to lose track of what we want to achieve. And this is where journaling can play a paramount role. If we are consistent with it, it can lead to the important mindset shift from a reactive to a proactive lifestyle. It can help us understand what is the way forward, pull us back to the present moment and give us focus and a sense of groundedness.
Some additional and more detailed reasons why journaling has become such a life-changing habit for me are:
It helps me to release any pent-up emotions
It helps me process what is happening in my life and get my mind clear.
It unlocks my creativity. Oftentimes when I am in the process of writing, solutions to problems and interesting ideas unexpectedly come up.
It helps me name my fears, which is the first required step to overcome them
It is a way of cultivating self-compassion and gratitude, increasing self-awareness and of finding within
My morning pages have naturally become part of my morning routine and they are not something that require me to wake up earlier than I would normally would. I usually do my journaling whilst having breakfast and I find that doing it in the morning sets the tone for a positive day. However, I sometimes also like to write before going to bed. There are days where I get home and I feel this urge to write about something that might have happened and that left me feeling excited or overwhelmed. Though dumping always turns out to be a helpful thing and, from my personal experience, I can safely affirm that any time devoted to journaling, whether that is 10 minutes, 1 hour or more – is never time wasted.
That being said, if journaling is not part I challenge you to give it a go. If you are already into journaling, I would love to hear how it is has been helping you.
Additionally, I would also be very curious to know if, just like me, you also put time aside each day to engage in an activity that calms your mind? What are some other positive habits that you have incorporated into your day-to-day life and that have comparable benefits to journaling? You can let me know in the comment section below! 🙂
It was just about one week ago when I found myself stuck in a professional dilemma. I was offered a job at a company that I have wanted to work for ever since I moved to The Netherlands and became more environment-conscious. Even though the job position seemed to be the kind of challenge I was looking for, there were also some cons associated to it that required some proper clear thinking. After a couple of phone calls and two face-to-face interviews and, I just did not have a good feeling about it. I was having many inner reservations about the position and team I’d be working in. I was also experiencing a copious amount of some self-doubt about taking the job. I had never seen myself in such a situation ever before. I weighted all the pros and cons, made a proper cost-benefit analysis (haha) and lost sleep over it. I put all my questions and thoughts down into paper and I asked for advice to my family, friends and boyfriend. For roughly three weeks I could not be fully at peace within myself because I had this dilemma constantly playing on the back of my head. This whole situation took me by surprise because I was not actively searching for a now job. The entire recruiting progressed rather quickly and…All of a sudden I found myself with little time to make up my mind. I was being highly pressured by this other company to make a decision. A big decision that would undoubtedly result in a major life and career change.
I ended up by not taking the job and I feel good about my decision. It was a difficult one but I decided to trust my gut feeling and follow my intuition. I feel grateful for having gone though this experience because it led to three big self-realisations that I’d like to share with you:
When it comes to big life changes, if you fear or doubt it more than you want it, then don’t do it. I have no doubts that I am ready for a positive career change but I realised that the decision I was about to take would not necessarily lead to the kind of change I am currently striving for. My certainty was not louder than my uncertainty as it is supposed to happen when you are apparently given an opportunity to pursue what you want. After all, when something we want lands on our lap (like this job opportunity landed on mine), we should feel excitement and motivation to take it but if we feel even more unease than fear itself, well that is a sign we need to pay attention to.
You do not have to have it all figured out, you just have to choose the next best thing and trust that everything will work itself out.
Take your time to reflect about the situation you are into and about how saying “yes/no” would make you feel. Then step back, surrender to the decision, welcome guidance and clear direction will be presented to you. This is exactly what happened to me.
To sum all this up, if there is one advice I can firmly give based on this experience is that: if it does not feel right, then it is not for you and that is ok. Oftentimes what we think we want is actually not what we really want or need in our life. There is something big coming your way so do not overwhelm yourself. Trust the process and take each day as it comes. ♥
I think that all of us, at some point in our lives, eventually hit rock bottom; whether that happens in our personal or in our professional sphere; or even all at once. I think that those who have been there already, would agree that hitting rock bottom can leave us feeling quite hopeless because the idea of bouncing back again may seem rather out of reach but… what if hitting rock bottom is what we need to find ourselves again and find out who we really are? What if hitting rock bottom shows us the way forward? What if hitting rock bottom turns out to be nothing more than a blessing in disguise?
A lot happened during the first half of last year. I lost myself trying to find myself. I went through countless ups and downs and I eventually hit flat-out rock bottom at some point. That forced me had to face myself as well as all my fears and insecurities. Subsequently, that led me to question everything that I ever thought to be unquestionably true. Almost a year has passed now and I look back at that time of struggle with a deep feeling of gratitude and self-compassion. I learned a lot about myself and I learned how to appreciate everything good – great in fact – that I have in my life. I have also come to realise that sometimes all we need is to actually hit rock bottom and that is why I am here today. I will be sharing in this post why I personally think that hitting rock bottom does not have necessarily be a bad thing and and what are some of the things that are important to keep in mind when we find ourselves at the bottom.
Hitting rock bottom has the potential of showing us all our dysfunctional behaviours. It is pointless to keep doing the same things over and over again and expect a different result. It is useless to delude ourselves into thinking that everything is just great when, deep down, we know pretty well it is not. So, by hitting rock bottom I was able to see things in another light and realise that if I want a different outcome then I must change the process.
Sometimes we need to let go of the old to create space for the new. I had to let go of habits that were no longer serving me so I could welcome empowering and positive new ones into my life.
At the beginning, when I hit rock bottom, I felt lost and clueless about how to make my way up again, how to bounce back but then I just remind yourself that “this too shall pass”. I just trust that my pain was temporary and try to see the bottom as a springboard that I could use to push myself up. It worked.
When you hit rock bottom and hence, your lowest point, you can rest assured that your situation can only get better from there. When you cannot sink any lower, there’s nowhere to go but up, right? As the saying goes “It is all uphill from here“.
Give yourself time to understand what the situation you are into means to you, embrace the chaos and the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Do not focus on how you feel but on how you want to feel instead. That it is what ultimately will get yourself out of the bottom.
If you are going through something difficult and have hit rock bottom, I hope this post has given you some hope and served as a good reminder that this is just temporary. You are going to rise above whatever adversities life has thrown at you. Trust the process.
Well. January just flew by like a fastball. It is crazy how the first month of the new year is already done. Time seems to be speeding up as I grow older and older… Or is it just me? Anyway, as February is already here, I thought I would share with you some of my last month’s highlights. I always like to take time to reflect on the previous month as it improves my self-awareness and provides perspective.
Personal highlight of the month:
After being in a long-distance relationship for nearly 5 years, my boyfriend has left his home country – England – and moved in with me. It was about time! Now we will be both living and working in The Netherlands. We are both so darn happy and grateful for this huge change in our lives and relationship. This really goes to show that great things take time. ♥
Most exciting purchase:
Flights to London. My sister is having her graduation ceremony in May and I finally got to buy the plane tickets so I can be there to congratulate her in person. She finished her PhD from Imperial London College and I could not be more proud of her. Seriously.
Favourite ethical purchase:
Freezer bags made of silicone grade food, another small step towards using less plastic in my day-to-day life. I am so pleased with this purchase! Because the material is odourless and non-toxic (free of bpa, latex, lead and phthalates), it is a more sustainable and safer plastic alternative both for the planet and our health. Other characteristics of these bags that I am very pleased about are their self-sealing convenience, transparency of the material (i.e. you can easily see what is stored in them), light weight (i.e. easy to transport). They also don’t take much space at all, which is great given the fact that my freezer is not very big. Plus, as they are sturdy and resistant to extreme temperatures, you can just reuse them with no issues whatsoever. For those wondering, I got these silicone freezer bags from Amazon and totally recommend.
The Undutchables: An Observation of the Netherlands, Its Culture and Its Inhabitants by Colin White and Laurie Boucke. As an expat living in The Netherlands, I find this book to be unbelievably humorous and entertaining! I think that it is the kind of book that someone who is interested in learning more about the Dutch culture would find very interesting and insightful to read. It captures many of the funny quirks of the Dutchies at the same that presents them in a very funny and authentic way.
I know, I know. It is not exactly a new tune but it is so lovely and pleasing to the ear.
“Johny English strikes again”. Any comedy movie with Rowan Atkinson is a must-watch for me! I watched it right on the first day of the year and it made me start 2019 on a “positive” note if you know what I mean. My boyfriend and I had a really great laugh. Is it not laughter the best medicine and therapy one can have?
Favourite homemade dinner:
BBQ pulled jackfruit tacos. Yes, oh yes.
Jackfruit is one of my favourite meat replacements and I had been wanting to make this recipe for a loooong looong time. I am so glad and happy with how tasty it turned out. The boyfriend, who is a meat-eater, said that they were freakin’ delicious and he actually also said that both the texture and flavour resemble chicken meat! What a win in the kitchen! 🙂
One of my good friends from my home country came visit me with her boyfriend. She came exactly when we had the first real snowfall of the year and she got so thrilled haha! ..and oh well, in all honesty, so did I. I feel like it does not matter how long I live in The Netherlands for, I still get excited every single time I see snow. It is just oh so pretty and magic and peaceful. Anyhoo, focus focus. As I was saying, my friend came visit and I made a reservation in one of my fave restaurants in town. We delighted ourselves in some lovely vegan Vietnamese food, shared some funny stories and laughed a lot! Both our partners came along and it was lovely to see how they just clicked and got on well with each other. It was a really great night and we got to build some new beautiful memories together to add to our 20 years of friendship.
The first real snowfall of this Winter.
All in all, a great start to the year 2019! 🙂
How did January treat you? What were some of your January highlights? Please let me know in the comment section below! 🙂
As we jump into a new week (and soon into a new month), I would like to leave you here what I wish I was told last night when I was struggling to fall asleep.
You are a whole being. You are not someone who is broken or who needs to be fixed. You are not someone who is not good enough or unworthy. You are whole.
Where you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. Even if you everything . Trust the timing of your life and, most importantly, trust yourself.
Put your thinking mind at rest. (Over)thinking just creates problems that would not even exist in first place if only we were present. (Over)thinking just perpetuates resentment, guilt and pain. So, my dear one, take a deep breathe and know you are safe. Know that you are already whole. Know that you are everything you need to be.
It is Friday evening and as we are heading into the weekend, this is a great time to share a short self-reflection post.
A great podcast episode that I was listening earlier today made me have this aha moment. It made me realise that whenever I am not able to fix something in my life, I can get really fixated and obsessed with trying to solve it. I can get so forceful that I end up by losing sleep over it, which in turn makes me feel hopeless and frustrated. Subsequently, I am not able to think it through because my mind is unsettled. I guess that I easily forget that forcing my way through things often repeals the very outcome I want to achieve.
I consider myself as a doer, a go-getter but I acknowledge that does not always work in my favour. When I do something that does not come natural to me (i.e. it is forced), I usually experience some anxiety, stress and overall emotional turmoil. However, when my actions are in natural response to the flow of what is happening around me, I feel calm, still and at ease. I am in alignment with the flow of life, with the flow of the Universe and I feel grateful.
That being said, today’s self-reminder is that it is in the letting go that I can achieve serenity. It is in the letting go that I can heal from inside out.
Hope you all had a great start to the new year. Let me start this blog post with a quote that, from my standpoint, carries deep meaning:
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.”– Brené Brown
2018 was a year of countless ups and downs, many blessings in disguise, a myriad of lessons learned and, above all, tremendous growth. 2018 has taught me that all feelings are safe and that it is okay to be vulnerable. 2018 has forced me to realise that my mental blocks are what keeps me to welcome true healing. 2018 has showed me how I can benefit from being more intentional and mindful with my time; in other words, it has showed me how important it is to be present, really present. It has also showed me that I should be celebrating my small wins because they result from challenging myself, which is what ultimately keeps me going. Even though I am still learning to take each day as it comes, I know that I am in such a better place today than I was one year ago. I am still in the process of coming to terms with myself but I am proud of my progress and of how far I have come. So, my dear 2018, I am now ready to let you go, to leave you behind and move forward onto new experiences and challenges. And as I move forward, my sweet 2018, I am leaving with you the fears and uncertaintes that have become so deeply rooted in myself that they almost fooled me to believe that they were actually somewhat me. Anyway, that does not matter anymore because I acknowledge that it is not true. I surely do not need those fears or uncertainties, which are nothing more than self-limiting beliefs, to feel secure or more like myself. While it is true that there is still plenty of inner work to be done, it is also undeniably true that I am on the road to healing and there is no going back.
In 2018 I have started this beautiful (though not easy) journey of self-rediscovery, of re-connecting within and of finding peace within myself again. In 2018 I have fallen in love with nourishing and nurturing my body. Subsequently, I have been increasingly feeling a deep sense of connection with it and I am so happy about it. For now, my biggest intention for 2019 is to learn how to let things fall into place, to let each day unfold and to let life flow naturally. I want to learn to wait without anxiety and trust in the process of life.Thus, dear 2018, I appreciate you for all that you were and for having shown me what truly matters in life but… I am now letting you go.
Dear 2019, I welcome you with arms wide open and a grateful heart. I am ready to embrace all the unexpected changes and the newness that you will bring into my life.
Sometimes it is hard to completely switch my mind off of work mode the minute I leave the office. Oftentimes it feels like I need an entire day just to unwind from a hectic week at work. That is why I make sure that every now and then I have a slow weekend that I can I use to fully recharge for the week to come. My first weekend of December was just like that. I had two and half days all for myself and trust me, they did wonders to my mind, body and sould. Hence why I am here today to share it with you.
I headed to the gym for an evening workout when I left the office and decided to combine my fitness session with the start of what I expect to be a compulsively readable and exciting thriller book.
After the gym, I headed right away to the Nederlands Dans Theather to attend/watch a dance performance from “Significant Moments”. A friend of mine was kind enough to offer me the ticket and I am so grateful for it. I was in complete awe with the group’s absolutely amazing performance from the beginning till the end. The human body really is capable of so much beauty and is just art in itself. I loved it all, from the dynamic, amazingly coordination and energetic pieces infused with humour to the show of lights, sounds and rhythm. A gorgeous concoction of ballet, hip hop, modern dance and acting. This is what I call “starting the weekend right”.
As I was biking my way home, I found myself in this cycling road and had to take a picture. The bare trees were looking so Christmassy and pretty with the fairy lights! It made me realise how I feel overall “lighter” and joyful when I allow myself to stop, look around and find beauty in the small things of life.
Morning Breakfast before heading to my cardio/strength training class at the gym: vegan and gluten free mini pancakes paired with coconut yoghurt and fresh blueberries. When I think I might fancy some pancakes for breakfast, I usually prepare them the night before so that all I need to do next morning is to pop them in the oven and eat! Quick, simple and without the need of rushing. I know, I know…they might not look like the prettiest pancakes but they were still tasty and crispy regardless! Plus, ugly pancakes are just as delish as perfectly golden and round ones!
Despite the gym class being quite physically intense (as per usual), it was still great fun! It is amazing how the instructor makes every class so entertaining with his cheerful mood and energy. There are moments when it does not even feel like you are working out. You just go with the flow, have a great time and end the class with a big smile (and ok a sweaty and red face too).
After my gym class, I caught a train to a nearby city, where I had never been before, and went for some much needed Christmas shopping. The city is called Amersfoort and is just 15 minutes away from where I live.
It was a short train journey but I still managed to do some reading and eat my homemade wrap for lunch. This is usually the meal I go for whenever I know I am gonna need a lunch on the go. It is simply a carrot wrap filled with mushroom-based mince meat from Quorn, green onions, spinach and cilantro. It was very yummy and it totally hit the spot!
One of my goals for this year was to explore not only more of Europe but also more of the country where I live. Thus, I was glad to cross another Dutch city off my bucket list just before the end of the year! Despite having been caught up in the rain and getting soaking wet (which is not that unusual anyways lol), it was a well-spent afternoon roaming and wandering around the unknown streets of Amersfoort.
I also got to explore a new cafe, something I absolutely love to do whenever I have the chance. The cafe is called “Barista cafe Amersfoort” and is it not so quaint and cozy> The staff could not have been friendlier and the atmosphere radiating Christmas vibes was so lovely and inviting.
I ordered myself a decaf cappuccino with unsweetened almond milk and a slice of dairy and gluten free toasted banana bread with cranberries, almond flakes and hazelnuts. The cappuccino was perfectly served and the banana bread just scrumptious. They both provided me that extra shot of motivation and, as a result, I was able to have a productive afternoon working on new content for the blog. I don’t know about you guys but I have always loved working in coffeeshops. I find that they enhance both my creativity and concentration levels.
Because I was enjoying my time at the cafe so much, I also decided to ordered a fresh ginger tea with lemon (one of my favourites).
When I left the cafe and made my way back to the train station, I managed to capture the last bit of autumn.
As it was super cold outside, when I got home I went straight to the shower and then put on some fuzzy socks and my comfy pjs. After feeling all nice and cozy, I made myself a nourishing dinner: chickpeas pasta, green beans, mushrooms, baked mustard tofu, watercress leaves and fresh cilantro. Just what my body was craving. I ate it whilst catching up on the last episode of “This is Us”. Any other fans of this show out there?
After a restful night of sleep, I woke up on Sunday morning and headed to the yoga studio, which is just a short walk from my house. I love doing a Power Yoga class first thing in the morning because it not only gives me mental clarity but also because it allows me to start my day in a positive light. Sunday is the only day of the week where I skip breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. It is advisable to practice yoga in the morning on an empty stomach. Having food in the digestive system can disrupt the overall yoga practice as it interferes with the rhythm of the body. Doing yoga poses take energy away from the digestive system and, if we have food is in our digestive tract, its capacity to digest becomes limited.
After my yoga practice, which once again did wonders to my mind, body and soul, I was craving some real homemade comfort food. So, as for my post yoga refuel, I had this bowl of couscous paired with a mushroom and cauliflower stew. I topped it all off with fresh cilantro, some squeezed lemon, cracked pepper and toasted pine nuts. It was so tasty and it just goes to show that plant-based eating does not have to be dull or boring at all.
One of the things I love the most about being at home during the weekend is to have the time to really tune in with my body, listen to the foods it craves and feed it accordingly. Plus, nothing beats nourishing our bodies with a homemade and hearty meal made with love and care, am I right or am I right? ♥
December is here, which means that Christmas is officially less than a month away and therefore it is most definitely not too soon to pop on a Christmas film and begin to feel festive! Yay. Plus, it was super cold and wet outside… and what’s better than staying in and watching movies when the rain is beating down?
I watched the movie “The Man who invented Christmas”, which tells the story of how Charles Dickens created “A Christmas Carol”. It is a lovely story and I recommend anyone who sees this season as special and somewhat magic to watch it.
Also, when the weather is not working in my favour, I love a good book to snuggle up with. So after watching the movie, I have finished reading the book “The Universe has your back” whilst sipping a cup of hot camomile tea. I absolutely loved it and it was just the perfect way to end the rainy Sunday.
This relaxing weekend left me refreshed and ready for the new month and for everything that it holds. How amazing is it that each month offers us the chance to start fresh, with a new mindset, focus and intentions? This slow start to December reminded me of how important it is to give myself a little grace, turn off my ” go go” mentality, put aside my to-do list and just unwind. After all, with our busy lives and only some precious little time away from the grind, we need to make every moment of our free time count. The best way to do it is by making time for the things and people that make our soul happy and our life more fulfilled.