Always loved this simple yet wise credo: “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, Thats why it’s called the Present”.
I strongly believe that our lives give meaning by focusing on making each and every day worthwhile. Emphasising what will be around the corner, what will, what might happen tomorrow is a waste of time, just because tomorrow will never arrive if we’re always looking at what’s next. Anxious that your life is unfulfilled?
In this context I recommend reading “Life is a Gift” by Gill Edwards. It’s all within the title: Life is a gift – we just need to unwrap it. Often we know what we would like to have/be/do in life, but instead of being filled with love, confidence, and direction, we feel afraid or unworthy, and push our dreams to one side. This is one of those books that is best read a few times, making notes as you go through, of those ideas and comments that ‘speak’ to you. Then start putting the principles into practice.
However, you might think..yes that’s all nice and well and that slogan looks good on a book cover, but how do I actually do this? I am too busy to even think about reading another book and my day takes over because of planning for things tomorrow, next month, next year. To me this book prompted me to start thinking about how and what my perfect day looks like.
If a single day is the fabric, the one brick, the foundation of our life; what does a perfect ‘you’ day ideally consist of? Can every day be the same, will every day be amazing? Of course not..but if we don’t know what kind of day makes us really happy, with what kind of ingredients, anchors and milestones; how would we know we’re back on track?
Building on to one of my previous posts on creating your morning ritual, this takes it a bit further. What are those ingredients that create a ‘gifted’ day for you? Things you only can decide, control, start, influence. Things you can repeat every day and can only blame yourself for if you did not achieve them.
Think about that for a minute..what actually is your ‘gifted’ day?
Welcome to my selection of things to do in Atlanta. I studied and have lived in this capital of Georgia with great pleasure and loved the seasons. This pretends to be by no means complete. Please browse as it’s just a taste of this great city if you’ve never been and for Atlantans…do comment if I have missed any of your fav’s and you want to share. As always I am focusing on trustworthy and classic places, value for money, service and experience.
Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s ‘Central Park’ its ‘Vondel Park’. In this park and all around Midtown you’ll feel naked without a dog. Let me know if you want to borrow a member of the Canidae family. Designed by the sons of New York’s Central Park landscape designer Olmsted. Join the 6 am boot camp crowd or take the outer perimeter track for a 15min run. From May till November you can grab some protein after your work-out at the little all organic Farmer’s market and no doubt…everything gluten-free. Recently, a section of the Atlanta Beltline project opened and now offers an urban boardwalk to run walk, bike & skate around midtown area. This sustainable project is providing a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit by re-using 22-miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown and connecting neighborhoods directly to each other. Run for miles along uninterrupted great views of downtown and midtown Atlanta.
Ahh.. where to start? So many great and different places to choose from. A few of my fav’s. A great morning walk from Piedmont Park via the Beltline corridor (see above) takes you to Highland Bakery. Try the Peanut Butter French (brioche) toast covered with caramelized bananas and layers of peanut butter and maple syrup. Yes, I know…a thousand calories, and that’s why I recommend walking back as well. Carol Street Cafe sits in a lovely area called Cabbage Town. Walk around the small streets aligned with ‘shotgun houses’ where the workers of the cotton factory (now lofty condos) lived and affordable cabbage was on the menu every day. In the same area go for the best pancakes in town: Ria’s Bluebird. My Mum (and her name happens to be Ria!) tried, tested and approved the pancakes: and she’s an expert. Great about Rosebud restaurant is that you are able to make brunch reservations in the weekend. Across the street (N. Highland Ave) step into deli Alons (where McMackin orders his ‘Cappucinnio’..his unique spelling) for a great takeaway coffee and the best croissants. On Edgewood go to Thumbs Up Diner for a good American style breakfast. On the corner of Virginia and Highland, Murphy’s is a classic for brunch and wicked bloody marys on the weekends. Oh yes, The Silver Skillet on 14th is an institution, a true diner never renovated I could go on…can you tell I love breakfast?
Dancing Goats on North Ave has very good coffee and home-baked cookies and cakes. Same as its sister outlet in Decatur. Caribou Cafe in Midtown and Buckhead is best for working, chatting or quick meetings. Star Provisions (West Midtown) also offers great cakes and deli things. In Belly General Store on Highland the coffee is great as well as best bagels in town. Now I’m talking breakfast again!
Did I mention the Beltline already? Unlike cities as New York or Chicago; Atlanta is not known for a broad spectrum of arts and culture. However there’s actually lots to do, the only thing is you have to do a little more homework to figure out what’s going on. Not to miss is the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site, consists of several buildings surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr.’s boyhood home on Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn historic district of Atlanta (see picture). MOCA, the Atlanta Museum Of Contemporary Art is worth a visit and enjoy the towering 26-foot tall World Events sculpture on the same grounds. The beautiful and artdeco-ish Fox Theatre is a gem on Peachtree and offers many quality acts. Often the Alvin Ailey modern dance group from NY performs at the Fox. If you are in marketing, really do visit the Coca Cola museum. It displays the careful evolution of the brand from the original medicinal drink to today’s ‘Open Happiness’ global replacement of tap water. Close by is the Georgia Aquarium, have a look. However don’t line up when queues are long, no time to waste. On the top floor of the Westin, go for a revolving floor cocktail and enjoy spectacular views. In summer the Chastain Park Amphitheatre is just special. I have been to see Harry Connick Jr. in concert and everyone brings an elaborate picnic, candles, linen napkins, wine and what have you. Very elegant. Stone mountain is good for a hike or bike if you have a few hours to spend.
Murphy’s (see above) I recommend either brunch or lunch, a book on the outdoor patio or sit at the bar. Seasons 52 in Dunwoody, Perimeter is consistently good and love the low-cal mini deserts. Very informal and laid back is Joe’s on Juniper and they also do brunch on weekends. Bistro Nico in Buckhead is perfect for a business power lunch. After shopping in Lenox mall dump your bags and dive into some sushi at Prime. A great vegetarian, vegan place is R. Thomas on Peachtree Rd.
Burgers! Many good places, for touristy fun drive your car to the Varsity (corner North and Spring), park and order in your car and have your burger and fries served on a metal tray hanging from your lowered car window (very Americana). Flip Burger West Midtown (see picture) serves gourmet burgers, funky milkshakes (try the upside down pineapple cake shake) in a very cool design restaurant.
Search for those outdoor small boutiques: explore where Virginia and Highland cross over, Little Five Point for quirky gear and visit the artsy town Decatur. No need to come near to downtown for good shopping. If you do want to visit a mall go to Phipps Plaza in Buckhead (for some reason my Aston Martin is always parked inside this mall with the price tag still on..) and across you’ll find Lenox mall with all the regular brands. A really different experience is a visit to the Buford Farmer’s market. Produce from literally all over the world from bokkepootjes from Netherlands to chicken rice from Singapore.
Tired from shopping? Visit Bliss spa at the W hotel in Midtown and order a Foot Patrol treatment: heaven!
Just a 2-hour drive north takes you to the Blue Ridge mountains and plan for a one night sleepover in the picturesque mountain village Highlands, stay in the Old Edwards Inn. Take in the fresh oxygen. It is only a 4-hour drive to historic Savannah at the Atlantic Ocean. Closer to home a walk through Atlanta’s Botanical Gardens is always worth a visit and it’s right next to Piedmont Park. Did I mention the many summer concerts? Also every early April the Dogwood festival takes place and you’ll find the country’s best painters, sculptors, photographers, jewelry makers, glass blowers and other artists.
Here’s my current list: Floataway Cafe, see picture (Woodland hills), The Watershed restaurant (Peachtree), The Optimist (West Midtown), Buckhead Diner (Elton John’s a regular here) on Piedmont Avenue, Campagnolo’s (corner 10th/Piedmont), Bacchanalia & Abattoir (West Midtown) and for a-la-table prepared guacamole go to Rosa Mexicana (Atlantic Station).
The Loews hotel on Peachtree/11th is very pleasant, urban and has well-designed rooms. Hotel Indigo a smaller no-frills boutique hotel right across from the Fox Theatre and in the heart of midtown: my personal favorite. Say hi to the hotel resident Jack Russel. Or try Stonehurst Place, an award winning bed & breakfast on Piedmont Ave in midtown.
Missed anything?…please leave a comment.
Recently I revisited Luang Prabang in Laos. Early morning collecting alms by buddhist monks is an ancient southeast Asian, over 400 year old religious tradition and those who give alms earn merit for their next life. In Luang Prabang this ceremony is simply spectacular because it involves almost 30 monasteries and several hundred monks. The alms ceremony is a sunrise event with a long single line of monks in saffron-coloured robes making their way down the picturesque streets. Their feet are bare and each monk is carrying a bart bowl. In full silence and making no eye contact the monks accept the alms, the bits of rice offered by the pilgrims.
This quiet serene time in the morning is a very powerful ritual and sets the tone and pace for the rest of the day. Recognise the feeling that your day just takes over, you don’t know where and how it started and you ended the day feeling exhausted and unfulfilled? To start and end your day with your own rituals is a very impactful yet simple thing to do.
Using your phone as your alarm clock is very convenient and the moment you wake up in bed to first thing check your emails, in case you missed anything, feels very efficient right? So how often have you been enlightenend and felt liberated staring at your inbox, facebook status, tweets, online news and what have you that early in the day. So even before you even set foot out of bed, even before you start waking up properly, you allow yourself to get influenced by external noise setting the tone for the day. Your mind, thoughts have now already been programmed and influenced by the content and tone of these messages.
My dictionary explains: a ritual is a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. Typically religions offer people many rituals, like the above buddhist alms ceremony, these rituals act like anchors in our lives. Many of us are looking beyond the traditional religions to place new anchors creating our own rituals.
I know what you are thinking: I have no time to go for a morning run, do complicated yoga poses and meditate for an hour because I have kids to feed, need to beat traffic and have deadlines to kill. However, do you have 10 minutes to spare each morning just for yourself? Even if you have just 10 minutes to set your own ritual is a better start than staring at your phone and get anxious even before you’ve hit the shower.
Here’s a few suggestions to start creating your own ritual and it’s just 6 easy steps:
- Get yourself a regular alarm clock and leave your phone to charge in your living room, your den, anywhere far away from your pillow. Yes! Indeed, this means that you should not step into bed with your phone, tablet or laptop;
- In the morning after switching off that alarm, drink two glasses of water to get your system going;
- Spend just 5 minutes in your bedroom to do some careful stretching, reach for the sky, stretch your arms, welcome the day, well you know the drill but how often do you really do this?;
- Then standing still, sitting down or laying on the floor meditate just for 5 minutes. Fill your mind with positive thoughts, visualise how you want this day to flow; how do you want to come across at that meeting and how you want to feel at the end of the day;
- That’s it! Have some fruit, an apple, fresh orange juice then hit the shower and have a healthy solid breakfast to get you fully prepared for the day!
- After this you allow those emails, messages and news to come to you. Feel the difference..
Try this and I guarantee you that after a few weeks when you skip your ritual, you’ll start missing it. Experiment with it, extend you time. Is your ritual better suited going for a morning walk or run? You’d like to practice your yoga skills? Perfect, this is all about your personal intention creating your own ritual to own your day.
Want to know more? Drop me an email: [email protected] or leave your comments to this post.
Early morning’s are the best in Amsterdam. Nothing can beat a sunrise run, walk or bike ride in the (over 400 years old) canal district area. Particularly on Sunday mornings…serene peace & quietness. Even its sister canal city Venice can’t beat.
Best running in the Vondelpark. Enter anywhere and just follow the outer ring, one round sets you back a little over 3K. Have some breakfast after in the Blauwe Theehuis, right in middle of the park. Looking for a more serious track? Take a tram (16) to the Amsterdamse Bos and you can run a marathon without seeing the same trees twice. Great pancake place at the end of the rowing basin to load up your lost carbs.
My favorite meal of the day. Even though Amsterdam doesn’t have that great early bird breakfast culture like in Sydney, with its many hole in the wall venues, it’s coffee all around here. Thank you Mr. Douwe Egberts! Many coffee places serve breakfast items (order an ‘uitsmijter’), and produce great coffee & tea’s. My fav’s are located in and around the Utrechtsestraat neighborhood: Koffie Salon join the regular newspaper reading in-crowd and order your latte from the best barista in town. For some substantial morning food go to Zuivere Koffie also in Utrechtsetsraat, Cafe Marcella (only when the sun is out) and enjoy a ‘broodje osseworst’ and regular coffee on the street terrace (corner Amstelveld and Prinsengracht). In De Pijp area go to De Wasserette (eerste vd Helst straat) with eggs different styles, granola with fresh fruits & excellent coffee. A perfect way to start a lazy Sunday morning.
Visit the Albert Cuyp market, a larger than life street market, selling everything under the sun. Try some Dutch street food like freshly baked ‘stroopwafels’ or ‘poffertjes’ and grilled chicken ‘kip’. Stroll the side streets into de Pijp hood with a very eclectic mix of restaurants and shops. Don’t forget De Wasserette. Each Monday morning there’s a nice flower market on the Amstelveld or every Saturday enjoy a great farmer’s market on the Noordermarkt in the Jordaan district.
Amsterdam is famous for it’s museums and I recommend the Hermitage at the Amstel, housed in a beautifully restored former retirement home for the elderly, and is a branch museum of the famous St. Petersburg museum. The Rijks Museum recently opened its doors after a 10 year renovation by Spanish architects Cruz and Ortiz: worth a visit. For something different: ‘Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder” (Our Lord in the attic) one of the oldest and most remarkable museums in Amsterdam. Behind the characteristic facade of the house by the (Oudezijds Voorburgwal 40,) canal lies a largely original 17th-century home and a complete hidden church. This hidden church ‘in the attic’ was built during the Reformation, when Catholics were forbidden to hold public services.
When the sun is out (cherish that moment..), spend some time on the terrace of Cafe Nel on the Amstelveld good soups and salads. For a more substantial lunch the College Hotel, next to Cafe Wildschut (Van Baerlestraat), has a nice garden area. as well as the Pulitzer Hotel with its 24 canal houses, just walk into the hotel and explore the inner courts. Good lunch option also is Pompadour corner Kerkstraat and Spiegelstraat and they serve best apple tart in town!
My favorite area’s: Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets), close to Jordaan, it’s the area in between Prinsengracht and het Singel and between Leidsegracht and Rozengracht. This district is full with boutique fashion shops, little cafe’s and restaurants. Of course the Utrechtsestraat (see above) is a must and all of the Jordaan area with the Herenstraat. There’s only 1 department store you should know of: The Bijenkorf (Bee hive) and it’s right smack on the Dam square. Oh yes, Amsterdam’s version of Rodeo Drive…is the PC Hoofdstraat, worth a visit on Saturday and interesting people watching.
Towards the end of the afternoon settle into a sofa or cozy up right next to the bartender at the Andaz hotel on Prinsengracht housed in the former library building. For some intimate setting visit the Pulitzer bar. When the sun is out in summer and not too windy take the ferry behind the central station to the Eye film museum as they have a great outdoor area overlooking the IJ river. The Sky lounge on the 11th floor of the Double Tree hotel gives you an unexpected cosmopolitain view across old city Amsterdam. Mentioned already is Cafe Wildschut for a ‘flute’ beer or two and any brown cafe you bump into on the canals.
Some of my fav’s are Italian restaurant Segugio ($$$) in Utrechtsestraat; Vandermarkt ($$$) at the Weesperzijde.; Van Vlaanderen ($$$) at Weteringschans, Vooges ($) in Utrechtestraat is more of a bistro and serves very good fries and home-made! mayonnaise. Dine where your food is grown at restaurant De Kas ($$, Kamerlingh Onneslaan) or be adventurous and try Dutch cuisine at Haesje Claes ($$) in Spuistraat to sample comforting pea soup and endive stamppot. You can’t leave Amsterdam before enjoying a Dutch inspired Indonesian rice table dinner at Kantjil & de Tijger ($) in the Spuistraat.
Hotel JL, part of Vondel hotels, located at the Jan Luijkenstraat just parallel to the PC Hoofdstraat, walking distance from Rijks, Stedeliijk (modern art) as well as the Van Gogh museum. Of course the Pulitzer hotel remains my favorite and if you into very artsy design, try the Lloyd Hotel at Oostelijke Handelskade. Renting your own house boat is also an option and feel like a local.
Want to know more or add your suggestions? Love to hear your comments.
Recognise this? You are engaged in frequent conversations with a friend who asked for your guidance to solve a personal issue. Each time your friend is knocking on your door, you are ready to listen and offer advice . You start to become frustrated and depleted after each conversation turns into you realising your friend is not doing a single thing with your advice and only leaves you with all the drama and emptying your box of Kleenex. Or, your boss is talking to you as if you are a junior intern and can only lead by controlling rather than inspiring you. Making you want to leave the company you still love working for. Or, you realise the colleague you just started that project with, has real bad body odor and each time you dread to be in the same room with him and not being able to concentrate on matters important to you.
I recently had the pleasure to work with a client to introduce the principles of “Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when the stakes are high” – a book and approach written by Kerry Patterson*. For each of my above mentioned scenarios, some people opt for the ‘silent killer‘ which means withdrawing from the conversation, avoiding, diverting the issue and hope it will go away just like that. Other personalities feel more comfortable to go into ‘violent mode‘ and want to control the situation, attack and label the outcome of the conversation from a single minded point of view. When under stress and often the stakes are high, we tend to run into either silent or violent mode fast and furious.
There’s obviously a better way to recognise those crucial moments, in your relationship with others, which can have a disproportionate impact on your quality of life. This book provides great insight and tools to guide us through a pattern to improve our communication skills. My favourite steps are: ‘starting from the heart’, realising firstly what is important to you and state your intention. Secondly, ‘make it safe’, creating an environment of trust and mutual respect. To me respect is like the air we breathe, once it’s there we don’t even think twice about it, however when it’s gone, we’re in trouble. Lastly, ‘move to action’, in other words how do you move forward, make happen what is agreed. In my sales days I learned to ‘never forget to ask for the business’, otherwise nothing happens.
My book recommendation for this week: “Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when the stakes are high” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler.
Do your interactions with people turn into crucial conversations as apposed to just plain vanilla? I am qurious to hear from you and do let me know what works best for you. Interested to learn more?