Regen

Het begint net te gieten wanneer mijn shift in de bibliotheek erop zit. Alsof de weergoden beslissen dat ik best nog efkes blijf. Ik besluit hun oordeel te negeren en begeef me al trippelend door de grote plassen naar de tramhalte. Mijn voeten worden zompig en wanneer ik wandel zuigen ze, slurp, slurp, het water gretig op.

De tramhalte is als een eiland in een bijna letterlijke zee. Tegen de stroom in, vind ik een plekje in het kotje. Alsof er een glazen wand is tussen mijzelf en de buitenwereld, kijk ik vanuit het hokje naar het park. Lekker binnen, denk ik. Gezellig, denk ik achtereenvolgens. Andere uitgeregende mensen volgen mijn voorbeeld snel. De een al wat beter gekleed op deze stortbui dan de andere. Ja, mevrouw met de slippers, ik heb het over jou. Maar iedereen is welkom in dit glazen kooitje van droogte. Het is hier lekker warm. Kom binnen, zet u. Samen op het veel te krappe bankje. Naast elkaar, ongeacht taal, religie, cultuur of huidskleur. Maar goed dat België zo’n regenland is, denk ik dan. En mijn zompige voetjes ben ik zo vergeten.

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100 things that make me happy

  1. Having a boyfriend that is thoughtful, listens to my complaining and still loves my sleepy face in the morning
  2. Waking up by a ray of sunshine peeking through the curtains
  3. Sleeping in freshly washed sheets
  4. Hearing the rain tickle the window
  5. Reading a book and not being able to stop
  6. Apple pie with vanilla ice cream
  7. Wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time
  8. Lighting candles and dimming the lights
  9. Seeing a shooting star

    c Chopsticksroad

  10. Sitting by the fire with friends and roasting a perfectly crisp marshmallow
  11. Children
  12. Making my grandma smile
  13. Trying new flavours of everything
  14. Celebrating my friends’ successes and steps in life and adulthood
  15. A glass of white wine on a Friday evening
  16. Arranging some freshly bought flowers
  17. Sipping my cup of tea at work first thing in the morning while going through my e-mails
  18. Getting that perfect ‘gram (@Belgenius)
  19. Learning new things
  20. Booking a trip and planning it
  21. Seeing the cats peek through our backyard window
  22. Opening a window of an advent calendar
    c Birten Pots
  23. Finding a cute note in my lunch box
  24. Putting away my winter coat
  25. Seeing the first signs of spring on the trees
  26. Spaghetti bolognese
  27. Getting an unexpected positive phone call
  28. Reading a good poem
  29. Going out for a spontaneous ice cream after work
  30. Standing up for someone on the bus or tram and getting a huge ‘thank you’
  31. Finding a song that fits my mood perfectly and playing it on repeat
  32. Karaoke in the car
  33. Catching the train by a few seconds
  34. Defrosting my hands at home after going through snowy weather
  35. Singing
  36. Getting a nice comment on one of my blog posts

    c Marisa Morea

  37. Going to a museum and (sometimes) not understanding what the hell I’m looking at
  38. Getting unexpected letters or messages from family and friends abroad
  39. Helping my family
  40. Hosting people and putting together a feast
  41. White chocolate pralines (manonkes)
  42. Doing yoga and not tumbling over
  43. The smell of freshly cut grass
  44. Having a day off to do absolutely nothing
  45. Eating breakfast on the train together
  46. Picknicks
  47. Reading the paper – makes me feel really adult and all that
  48. Buying new make-up that I’ve been dying to try
  49. Taking a bath with a gorgeous Lush bath bomb
  50. Spontaneously dancing to Norah Jones
  51. Irish music
    c Julianna Swaney
  52. Drinking cocktails on hot summer evenings
  53. Painting my toe nails metallic blue
  54. Going to the sauna
  55. Making lists (ha!)
  56. Watching a super cheesy romantic movie (I’ve seen Love Actually 10 times)
  57. Huge cacti
  58. The smell (and taste) of roasted vegetables with thyme and rosemary
  59. Buying presents for people
  60. Feeling the sand between my toes
  61. Sunsets
  62. Forest walks
  63. Learning a new language and having other people actually understand what I’m saying
  64. Wearing a perfectly matched outfit
  65. Photo albums
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  66. Feeling my skin after a face mask
  67. Watching a documentary and feeling really intelligent
  68. Illustrations that can portray a feeling in one image
  69. Seeing people being nice to other people
  70. Street musicians
  71. Finding second hand gems
  72. Spotting rainbows
  73. Dressing up for special occasions
  74. Scandinavian things
  75. Going to performances (stand-up comedy, theatre, music)
  76. Baking cake or cookies
  77. Hiking somewhere and finding it the worst and then loving it too
  78. Floors with cool motives
  79. Not watching the clock and forgetting about time
  80. The seaside
    c Vincent Mahé
  81. Palm trees – and exotic looking plants or places in general
  82. Greenhouses
  83. Visiting book shops
  84. Filling out my paper diary with my own colour coding
  85. Hedgehogs
  86. Going out for coffee on a Sunday afternoon
  87. Brussels
  88. The art deco houses in the streets
  89. Holding hands
  90. Sharing
  91. Long and floaty summer dresses
  92. Not setting an alarm
  93. Putting sunscreen on someone’s back as a smiley face
  94. Buying strawberries
  95. Sitting on a blanket in the park watching the clouds and people pass by
  96. Getting my hair cut
  97. Big windows
  98. Seeing people blow out birthday candles
  99. Hugging someone after a long time
  100. Getting the mail from the mail box

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Wanneer er niet genoeg binnen aan een huis is

Ik zat vandaag op de trein. Lekker warm. Want buiten was het één van de koudste dagen van deze winter. Temperaturen onder nul. We glijden voorbij de achterzijden van de eerste Brusselse huizen. Eens Brussel binnengekomen zie ik iets vreemds.  Een waslijn met een horde aan gekleurde t-shirts. Gek, denk ik, om bij deze temperaturen je was te drogen te hangen.  Elke t-shirt wordt een statisch en stijve vlag in de wind die weigert te wapperen. Dan zie ik het. Een vierkanten constructie. Een bijeenraapsel van dozen en plastiek. Vier muren en een dak.

Nu weet ik waarom. Wanneer er niet genoeg binnen aan een huis is moet het buiten. De was buiten. De koude binnen. De deur altijd open. Was het buiten maar warm en binnen koud. De wereld binnenstebuiten gekeerd als een warme trui met fleece binnenin. Dan was er plaats genoeg, en iedereen in de huislijke warmte, altijd en overal.

Ana Frois
© Ana Frois

Why I Blog

People often don’t know I  have this blog. It’s only when I tell them or when they see my posts through social media that they know. It seems weird to me, seeing as to me it’s a relatively big part of my daily life. I’m always surprised the word “hobby blogger” isn’t written on my forehead somehow. But anyways, I love to blog and here’s why.

Firstly, writing is my number one creative outlet. I love to juggle with words and to carefully consider what to put where. I love that you can rearrange and change your mind. My blog is a space that allows me te be or do whatever I want to. It could be poetry one day, it can be a lifestyle or fashion related items the next. My mood constantly changes and I thoroughly enjoy that my blog can change with me.

Secondly, it’s a fantastic way to look back on things. Sometimes when I’m not really feeling it, I scroll through my own Instagram and blog and think: wow, I’ve done so much in the past few months or years. I’m always stunned at how many good moments there have been. It’s a great way to keep those memories safely stowed and always at hand to cheer me up.

Finally, this blog gives me a platform to straighten my thoughts, to make lists, to get out there what I feel needs to be heard or simply be said, whether it’s being read or not. It’s how I structure the dreamy, emotional and creative part of my brain. What’s even better is that this part gets to interact with people; there’s nothing more fun than seeing someone like or reblog a post and reply to comments. It’s the best feeling to see that a blog post doesn’t just end with the reader, it’s only the starting point of a discussion.

So, that’s why I blog. No matter the time or effort, I’m determined to keep this blog going and I’m excited to see how it evolves as I grow.

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© Lotta from Stockholm

5 tips to increase your productivity

  1. Clean house, clean mind

I believe that a clean and well organised house can give you not only more living space but space to think and be creative. Whether that is literally or figuratively speaking. For example, I swear by making the bed each morning, because it gives me a sense of peace. It marks the start of the day and it marks the end, when I get to dive into the cozy sheets of the neatly made bed. It’s only one of the examples of how a visual manifestation of neatness eases the mind. Trust me, it works. If you are not thinking about not having made the bed or some other household task, you will have room to think about something else, something more productive.

2. Breathe

Whether it’s a breakfast with a cup of tea or with a 5 minute meditation session (Calm is a really good app for this) on the train or during break at work, it’s important to breathe… It sounds straightforward, but it’s easier to forget than you’d think and it has a great influence on lots of other things, like your productivity.

3. Take a break

We all know the importance of a break to increase productivity, whether it’s from studying or work, but I’m mentioning it anyways to stress the importance of actually taking a break during your break. Not just for food, not just by being on your phone for a couple of minutes. Talk to someone, go for lunch with someone that isn’t from work, read a book, take a walk, do some sports, listen to some music,… the options are endless. Sometimes it’s better to take 5 minutes extra and get going afterwards than to stay at your desk and do half of what you could’ve done. Simple, right?

4. Get the overview

As a professional list-maker and organisation enthusiast, this one is easy for me. I like the colour-coding, the to do lists, the post-it notes and ticking off boxes. It’s doesn’t have to be that complicated though, just jotting down your thoughts can be a simple way to get some perspective. It’s easier to discern priorities if they’re put to paper and not floating around in your brain somewhere.

5. Make it fun

Whether it’s a grumpy cat notebook or photos from your family on your desk, it’s important to make the space you work in feel a little bit homey. You’ll be a lot more creative if you actually enjoy your working space.

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2017 in hindsight

This year has been a year of change, both on personal and professional grounds. Not only did I move to a different city that was entirely new to me, Brussels, but I also moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend Gillian. Only a few days later, I started my first ever ‘real’ job. It’s been a year of finding balance between visiting family, catching up with friends and spending enough time with each other (because living together doesn’t automatically mean you get to talk or see each other a lot) as well as work obligations and finding time for myself (aka blogging).

It’s been a year of learning and growing from both positive and negative experiences, but I guess that’s what makes life so interesting. I’m pretty sure I’ll  learn even more in the year to come, and that makes me both excited and a little bit scared. But most things that are worth it, are a little bit scary. We already have an exciting trip planned and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Whenever I look back on a certain amount of time – a month, a year – I feel very blessed and full. When you’re so busy and very much in the moment, it’s nice to reflect and come to realise that you’ve experienced A LOT. It’s magnificent. Here’s some of my favourite moments from 2017. Let’s toast to many more…

In January I spent my last time solo travelling (for now) in Vienna (more photos over here) and realised that once you’ve found your partner in crime, travel buddy aka love of your life, it’ll never be the same. It’s also the month we moved into our first apartment together. I can’t describe it anything but chaotic bliss.

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In February, I spent the first full month working and really enjoying all the different office views. We also spent a wonderful weekend in Paris for Valentine’s day (more photos here).

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In March, I was reunited with my little sister, Pia, from Uruguay. We met when on exchange in Australia, where she became my host sister and have been friends ever since. Whenever we meet, no matter how long since the last time, it’s like we see each other every day. It was also the month Gillian and I bought our first car together.

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In April, I was surrounded by flowers and friends, a good combo. We took on swimming as a new hobby and it was also the month I donated over 20 centimetres of my hair to the Think Pink foundation, a change to say the least!

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May was all about taking it easy and exploring Brussels, which was exactly what I needed. We also took a little holiday to Lisbon in Portugal (more photos here) and life was simply perfect and perfectly simple.

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In June we took a weekent trip to the Belgian coast and we enjoyed everything from my birthday to the little things, and everything in between.

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In July I visited Pia during her exchange in Valencia and got a taste of real summer. More photos here.

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August was a busy month, but we managed to squeeze in a little weekend getaway to the Dutch regions, Zeeland and breathe in some of that salty sea air. More photos here.

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September was so busy that I focused most of my spare time on friends and family and didn’t have the proper time to record any of it.

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In October I spent a weekend with my girlfriends in the Ardennes and the weather was a-ma-zing.  Golden hour has never been so golden as that weekend. More photos here.

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In November my boyfriend and I took a long awaited vacation and spent our time travelling through two fantastic countries, Peru and Bolivia. You can read more about the trip by clicking on both countries.

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The final month of 2017 was spent in cozy corners with good company and great food, the way life should be. We enjoyed the warmth and comfort of our home and created our own bit of hygge.

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See you in the next year? :-)

Love,

Silke