Sunset at Schiphol Airport

Amsterdam is the best Euro Weekend Destination from Scotland, I reckon. There are other cities you can fly to in the same amount of time, but Amsterdam is the perfect blend of Different Enough From Home and Non-Painful Journey From The Airport.

It also brings that miraculous feeling of childhood day trips to Orange – you travel for just over an hour, then magically arrive in an exotic new world! In Amsterdam, that means canals and stylish shops, whereas in Orange it was traffic lights and a Dymocks bookshop and a McDonalds, OMG. And that one time the Mothership accidentally rolled the car over my foot in the K-Mart car park.

Anyway! In early December I met Julia in Amsterdam for another Up & Running Coffee ‘N’ Planning Summit. This was our third meet-up there, although it feels like we’ve been more often, so ingrained are our Amsterdam rituals and routines.

Hotel Highlight #1 – the resident cats. Sometimes if the door behind the fancy reception desk was open, you could see them sauntering around and/or shredding the walls of the back office.

Hotel Cat in Amsterdam

Hotel Highlight #2 – Cocktail bar!

The best cocktail ever

One evening Julia suggested we go see a movie. She’s a big Apple fan so was keen to see the Steve Jobs film. I was keen to see Michael Fassbender so happily agreed.

Julia was new to the work of the Fassbender and about five minutes in she turned to me and whispered, “Oh my word, who the f*ck is this guy?”

“I KNOW! Even in the Dad jeans, he’s still got it!”

Steve Jobs the movie

When not drooling over the cinema we also drooled at shop windows. I was delighted to find this first-person toy car to raise Gareth’s hackles. I AM €22.95!

Shop windows in Amsterdam

The traditional-because-it’s-happened-three-times finale of the Up & Running Summit is the Dreaming & Scheming Session at our favourite cafe Villa Zeezicht, home to the great apple pie. It’s about three inches high, a veritable wall of apples, served with cinnamon ice cream…

Villa Zeezicht - the best apple pie ever!

Previously the Session involved us ordering the pie then each taking a big blank piece of paper. We’d divide the page into four squares, like this:

U&R planning method

Then for the next half hour, between bites of pie, we’d get real quiet and think about the year ahead. For both Up & Running and our individual life (relationships, home, work, anything) we’d come up with a list of Sensible, Doable things we wanted to do or achieve, then a list of Wild & Crazy, outrageous impossible insane batshit silly things.

I would have thought this all a bit too woo-woo before I met Julia, but now I love it. It’s just taking a bit of time each year to think, where do I want to steer this ship? Because even if the ship gets attacked by pirates or crashes into a cliff, if you were generally headed where you fancied going it all seems easier to deal with somehow.

Also, the Wild & Crazy exercise really fires up the imagination. Sometimes, what seemed crazy and impossible turns out to be perfectly doable a few years down the line.

This time we shook things up a bit. Rather than big lofty goals, we both wanted to work on making our everyday lives more purposeful and productive. So instead of the big piece of paper system, we went stationery shopping (any excuse) and each got a new notebook and pen. I got this notebook because I love that ampersand, but it has an Artistotle quote, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”.

Neither of us can be arsed with perfection, which is why we won’t be quoted on the front of a fancy notebook thousands of years from now. Even so, we started the Session by writing out what our perfect working day would look like. Ideal would have been a better word – I’m still experimenting with that bloody morning routine and learning how I best get shit done.

Dreaming and scheming

Then we wrote down what stuff we wanted to do in 2016, and finished with some Crazy Dreaming. My lists were not that wild this year. They were kind of cosy and doable. You might say I’m getting old and crusty and lazy. But I think it’s more I want to appreciate and enjoy what I already have and make sure I’m giving that my full attention, instead of racing off to a random thing.

Nearly two months into 2016 I’ve already ticked some things off from the Cosy and Doable list. Pow! And I’ve booked that cat-scratched hotel again for December, just in case Julia put a return trip on her list too.

Flying over the Netherlands

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

14 thoughts on “Amsterplanning

  1. I am so jealous! Do you know how long it would take me to get to Amsterdam? About 7 hours just for the flight itself!

    I love the notebook/planning idea and I’m going to adopt it. A new notebook always inspires me. I definitely believe in the “ideal working day” or just “ideal day” brainstorming. I’ve done that before and the lesson I always learn is that about 90% of my perfect life is already in my grasp and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be living that way already.

    Also I love how cat-centric you are now 🙂

  2. I now want to visit just because of the hotel cat 😉
    Looks like you both had a lovely and productive time. I love that exercise on looking at your year ahead – might have to copy that!

    1. Totally worth it for the cat! Sometimes they would venture out into the lobby, and all the guests would be queuing up for photos 🙂

  3. I really appreciate your sharing that planning process. Y’all are ONTO something. Plus, getting a new notebook is a genius motivation/reward for such good behavior & having that delightful food means your blood is glucose-ful so your brain will be firing on all cylinders. =)

    1) I’m sort of anti-perfect. Perfectionism gets me (& many others) into difficult spots (where I can freeze up), so I prefer aiming for excellence or, when appropriate, good enough and DONE. =)

    2) Incidentally, reading some of those comments (cat lady), my best friend in grad school did a paper on how the presence of cats in a neighborhood is a useful & robust indicator of a neighborhood that is a pleasant place for people to live. As a conservation biologist, I would prefer to see the kitties through windows, etc., but the presence of cats can clue one into “Quality of life is here!” so your (erm, enhanced?) ability to detect cats –> you are a great “cool place” detector, NOT a crazy cat lady. =) Sez me. Unless, of course, you desire such a moniker, in which case, please ignore my comment. =)

  4. OMG that apple pie looks sooo good. I have always wanted to try cinnamon ice cream. Contestants have made it a few times on past seasons of My Kitchen Rules and it seems like it would go so well with lots of kinds of pies and cobblers and crisps. I have a little ice cream maker (that I have used twice in as many years). I should just make some already. Maybe I will do that soon.

    And cat hotel!!! 😀

  5. Am reading this at 6.30 am on a Sunday – and reckon I would get on a lot better with my life planning if I opened one of the hundreds of notebooks I own dotted around my house instead of just stroking the damn things ! ( actually – I love notebooks so much I keep buying them and then don’t want to ‘spoil’ their loveliness with day to day notes and to do lists )
    Good post and useful advice – I have committed my sensible / wild and crazy grid to paper – now just have to fill it in.

    oh -and well done on ticking off some of your cosies – is good to remember to value what we have already 🙂

  6. So jealous of your ability to weekend in exotic locales. Your getaway sounds wonderful and I’m glad you have exciting but also reachable goals.

    I’m feeling like I could use some of that pie since it is March 14.

  7. You are a splendid person, Shauna, you really are. And funny. I can say this with authority, having been reading you for a long time and having met you. Hurray for you.

  8. Are you doing okay? I am so use to you and Jennette posting within a couple days of each other, that I particularly noticed your silence. Hope things are well.

    1. Hey Vickie! Thank you so much for checking in, you’re very kind! I have no excuses, just got a bit overwhelmed juggling all the various balls of life and was trying to prioritise getting my health back on track. Plus a new cat! Also, I am useless without that blogging pact! I am going to start another one right away 🙂

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