Here we are Dutch Life…

 

 

So here we are living the Dutch life. Rain and all. Can you believe it has been a week? Actually it has been a little over. This is my first instalment of Dutch life. Somewhat more relaxed, iPhone snaps not photography works of art, nothing super profound. The posts where I will share our transition into this flat land of tulips, patat (chips and mayonnaise), exciting environmental policies and fun traditions that I can’t wait to experience with my five crazies. Maybe a few Franisms, stuff that makes life easier with 4 kids. You can take or leave them.

You know I like the deep thinking, story telling type posts but I am not always exploring what goes on in my head and connecting dots. I live a fairly normal life with all the things that go with having a husband who doesn’t know how to put the lights in the light basket and darks in the dark basket. Maybe he’s colourblind, I don’t know. My kids race each other on their bikes as they revel in the exhilaration of cycling on the roads. It scares the b’jesus out of me, shit, have I done the right thing moving them here? I like that they feel that kind of freedom so I ignore my fears. I think this is probably normal fear. They also tip boxes of lego out every.single.day and seem to want to be at the fridge or in the cupboards on the hunt for food NON-BLOODY-STOP.

My neck has been stiff for the past three days so my return to running is on hold which is a bugger because I want to do a trail run in December. I am not eating enough vegetables and I really need to drink more water. I am happy that I haven’t had a wine for the past two weeks, am writing loads (obvs.) and am getting out in the woods. I still want to shift the all that cheese I ate while travelling and I got a flat tyre on my second bike ride. Yep, plenty of mundane here in between the thoughts and bursts of creativity. That’s why the creativity and hiking are so important to me…it nurtures the insides, the loner, the daydreamer, the soul. It keeps me steady.

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Fading into the unknown…

Fade: the process of becoming less bright, to disappear.

Audacity: boldness or daring, especially with confident or arrogant disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions.

Creativity: the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.

I wrote last week that I’ve committed to the 12 week Artists way program by Julia Cameron. It came about as I was looking for a bookclub to join in Amsterdam. I’ve never been a part of a book club. For many years I didn’t even read books, it wasn’t a priority. It wasn’t something I grew up with in my home either, neither was homework for that matter. Don’t worry I don’t need therapy for that. I played outside most days (all day) and I lived near a national park so my head was full of stories and my imagination was wild.

I still need to daydream, my imagination is still wild but now I need to read too. Mostly I read for curiosity, a little for escape but I prioritise reading.  I call myself a minimalist which in my mind is about principles not necessarily stuff. Although many of us live without a lot of stuff because we have other priorities, daydreaming and reading are among my priorities. Now that I think about it my mum always have a stack of Mills and Boon next to her bed. Maybe she read to escape, she’s a daydreamer too.

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In the shadows…


The gentle unfolding of what I would do in The Netherlands began here. In this moment, at the Sagrada Familia. I didn’t realise it then but a significant shift was moving within me.

‘In the shadows’ I called the shot. I’d looked for the typical tourist shot. The one that would capture this grand, whimsical masterpiece of Antoni Gaudí, architect and artist.
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Building Armour…

I enjoy running, I always have. I’m not a fast runner nor will I ever be. I don’t run for speed or times (I did years ago). Now, it’s purely about the meditation, time out, fitness and endorphins.

This trip I am endeavouring to run often. It can be scary heading down a path you don’t know. Really scary. Some days there are overgrown paths, graffitied abandoned buildings, some days the paths are silent bush paths, others the beach is alongside me and my fellow joggers pass by with a “bonjour” or a “hola”.

Many thoughts come when I run and on some days, I’ll get the big brain farts. A new term I picked up from the lovely Cybele Masterman of Blah Blah Magazine. It’s the brain farts I’m going to write about while I travel.

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Before yes there was no…

“The mind is a beautiful thing because of the paradox.

It uses itself to understand itself.” ~ Adam Elenbass

Space, is a wonderful thing. Once you find it, it’s not something you want to let go of.

For me when there is space there is quiet, clarity, and in turn, peace. Delicious peace.

It’s not always sunny, but storms are easier to weather when there is calm.

The greatest lesson in finding simplicity I can share is to learn to simply say no…because when you do that enough you can then begin to say yes to what matters, to what makes your heart sing.

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The difference every day makes…

Around this time last year I watched a few insta friends as they took to the streets snapping photos for the @24hourproject.

Could I do that? No way. a. I would need to ask people if I could snap them (remember I am a shy introvert). And b. I’m a photo-taking hack, not a photographer.

Fast forward a year and a I’ve taken a whole lot of photos. I have built some confidence after helping Zoë with her One Girl fundraiser. That fundraiser showed me that one of the reasons I keep my life simple is so that I can jump on board when something I care about crosses my path.

So, when this year’s project came up and it turned out that I would be in Dublin on my own for the weekend and a little gentle encouragement from Rachael aka @thebowerbirdgirl (an actual real street photographer), I signed up.

It would have been easy to say no but what an adventure I would have missed out on. I’m not sure how it happened but I adopted the persona of Fran the street photographer. I actually thought I was one, maybe I really was.

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The wild west…

 

On this particular afternoon at the beginning of February I answered the call of the roaring wind.

I ran a little further into the rain to the top of the cliff and stood in it, head on. It was wild and revealingly thrilling.

An awakening that can only happen when there is solitude and space and an openness to feel.

We’d been here just over a month. The high of the newness was wearing off and a new phase, new feelings had started brewing.

Here on this cliff I knew I was me. A truth revealed. This life, this choice, being exposed in this unknown journey was far less scary than the idea of permanence, of what could have been.

How easily I could have slipped into the other life we had planned. The one we thought we wanted, the one that seemed ‘normal’, easier. Yet, for me, it wasn’t.

Something deep down was unleashed here on this cliff in this moment, something strong and powerful and raw.

The perfect prelude to a trip we would do later in the month into the wild west of Ireland.

Let me take you there. I’ll even share our first dad or in our case papa joke.

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I support and admire…

As I write this I’m hearing a conversation in the background between kids on a sitcom about followers (daughter is sick on the couch) how many? How to get more? Who has the most?

Of course it feels indulgent to write about social media, um, real-life problems, yes, I know. Sadly, during the show there was no discussion about the ‘why’, why they were using social media. I think that’s kind of important. Don’t you?

For a long time I resisted the social media landscape, but a few years ago I signed up under the alias @choose_simplicity the same time I actively chose a path to simplicity and I’ve been navigating my way through ever since.

I have gently surrendered to the fact that right now it’s important in my life and recently I dropped the alias in favour of using my name @frances.antonia.

Given that I’ve been at this simplicity thing for a while now you can be sure that if it’s in my life it’s going to need to have a purpose, to provide some meaning.

Dramatic over thinker? I’ve been called that, but don’t worry, I’m ok. See, here’s the thing:

For those of us who search for meaning in what we do, we need to understand ‘why’ we do what we do. In fact, the thinking bit can be a very deliberate action. And here’s the reason: It helps to keep us intentional and out of the shallows.

Intentional in our choices, our use of time, our parenting, our noise, our actions….life really. So here’s my ‘why’ I use social media and a little bit about why I blog.

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