happy (halfway) new year!

this morning i realized that we are halfway through 2011. exactly today. something i read was titled “halfway resolutions” and i thought. crap. did i make any resolutions on january 1? and if i did, it is a sure sign that i have not kept them due to the fact that i cannot even remember if i made any or not. oops. i believe, though, that i did not make any… based on previous experiences of not keeping my promises to myself. why put myself through that stress and pressure? with that said, i have no resolutions to look back on & check up on my failures and successes. even if it is the halfway mark.

but, i do have dreams. and i do have goals. so, perhaps, instead of doing some self-bashing, did-i-follow-my-new year’s resolutions reflecting (which i can’t do anyway, since i have none), i’ll do some reflecting on my dreams. what are they? have any of them become reality? and if i have accomplished any of my dreams (which i have), i will give thanks for that – for it is an amazing thing to see one of your dreams become a reality. and i will keep dreaming…

i find it wonderfully perfect timing that, as i took a step back towards myself last night (which you can read about here), the next morning i wake up and realize that we are halfway through the year. it feels like a new start. perfect timing for a mini-new year celebration. as i wrote last night, it felt as if some circle was being completed, and something new was beginning. and then, just like that… i open my eyes this morning, realize the date, and understand that, in fact, some circle was completed. something new has begun.

i read a young woman’s blog post this morning, which reminded me of something. she has just returned from an amazing trip which has given her new inspiration, new experiences, and many new questions. about 16 years ago i went on this same trip as her and was left with similar impressions and questions. then, 4 years ago, i had the opportunity to go on the trip again, but this time as a leader. still, the same questions, but in a much different light, surfaced. questions like: “now what?” today, as i begin the second half of 2011, i hear that question rising again in my soul. “now what?” “what comes next?” and while i still don’t have an answer to that question, while there is still no crystal ball to reveal the future, or no booming voice from heaven telling me what comes next, i am much more comfortable with that question than i was when i first started pondering it 16 years ago.

there is nothing outside of me telling me what to do, who to be, where to live, where to go, or what comes next. but, there is my inner voice. i don’t need, nor do i believe, some holy, loud voice will come out of the clouds to affirm my next step in life. no, the holy voice comes quietly, from deep within. and it can only be felt (i don’t say “heard” on purpose) when i am quiet & still. that’s the voice that i found and felt last night. that’s the voice that brings me calmness & peace. that’s the voice that reminds me that i don’t need to know the plan, that in fact, i am not going to know that plan, and that the plan itself if not what’s important. it’s not just about the destination. it’s all about the journey.

as a 20 year old, on this trip that my young friend just experienced, i could have never guessed or imagined what the next 16 years would have in store for me. and i believe that it has more difficult and more amazing than i ever could have imagined. so, “what now?” or “what next?”. i don’t need to know. all i know is that i must be true to who i am. i must spend sometime in silence every day. and i must live life to the fullest!

ok, second half of 2011, come on! i’m ready for ya!




some days i feel lost. like i’m just standing in one place. stuck. but i have so many directions in which to go. that’s the problem, though. there’s so much to do, so many places to go, so much to do, that i just freeze. i stand there not knowing what to do next. knowing what i want to do, or what i need to do, or what i don’t want to do. but unable to make any moves. or any decisions. my insides feel all jumbled up. i’m antsy. i panic. there are so many things to do, so many ways to go. but, i feel like i’m either standing still or going in circles. either way i’m not going anywhere and there are not enough hours in the day to figure it all out. it is in that moment that i have a mini-meltdown. and then i know the root of the problem... i’ve lost all connection with myself, with my spirituality, with my soul.

and so it was for me this morning. it had been building for the past 2 days: the excitement of having 3 days off, the desire to use those days to begin writing (since i can’t seem to find/make time in my packed & crazy schedule), the need to carve out some time for me, and the inability to find the discipline to do any of those things = my frustration level with myself was super high. well, i woke this morning. late. i wanted to just sit & write and meditate for a long time today, but plans changed. and i was having a hard time changing my unplanned plans for the day. i needed to just be. i felt homesick for the states & my family there. i was panicking at my lack of spiritual discipline in my life. and just when i realized how badly i needed to just be and reconnect, my opportunity disappeared. i wasn’t able to cope with our new plans for the day. i felt unwilling to adapt, and i had a little meltdown. but, i took a shower anyway and got ready. and, as my love noticed, i had a bad attitude & i knew it needed to change it.

so, i did. i pushed away my thoughts, my sadness, & my desires, and lived in the moments of the day. and i enjoyed myself. there was one little beautiful opportunity in the middle of the day, that presented itsef to me. we were at my love’s parents’ house and i went to the bathroom. when i came out, everyone had scattered. so i went outside on the back deck and sat in a chair. the sun was shining every now & then. it was warm. but, there was a strong, cool breeze as well. i closed my eyes, crossed my legs, and lay my hands in my lap, palms up. i soaked in whatever came to me and i took some time for myself. it was only about 5-10 minutes, but it was nice.

the day went on, with more people (we went to lina’s sister’s for a BBQ) and more fun. it was good to be around lina’s family, and all the kids, and the baby. without thinking about it, i enjoyed every little minute of laughter, of holding a cuddly baby, of playing with our nieces & nephews, and of immersing myself in swedish. it wasn’t until we got home just about an hour ago that i realized that today was just what i needed. and on top of that, i had the rest of the night in front of me.

so, right now i’m sitting at the desk, windows open, smelling all the BBQ’s the neighbors are having, sipping on a glass of wine, with a candle lit. without planning for it, the time i needed and yearned for this morning was presented right in front of me. right now. perfect. and amazing. i took my first sip of wine &  thanks to a twitter link, i opened up a website that inspires me (that i haven’t visited in about 3 years) and what did i see in front of me, but an article on “sabbath”. taking time to reconnect with the Holy and sacred that is within us all. peace fell over my entire body & soul when i saw this. this website, alivenow.upperroom.org, which is actually an online edition of a published journal (alive now) every 2 months, has a theme for each issue. i used to read it religiously when i worked in the church for 7 years. it inspired me and always touched me. anyway, every 2 months there is a new theme/focus. and guess what the theme is for the july/august edition. finding time. at this point, i realized that i had found my way back to open my heart so that i could experience a holy moment, for this is exactly what was (and still is) happening to me.

i read the article, the reflection, and let it sink into me. and i felt like i had come home.

if you know me, or have been reading my blog for a while, you know that the past 3 years have been an amazing, life-changing (the understatement of my life), and wonderful time for me. there are many things that have happened, many things that have changed, and many things about me that have remained the same. (all of which will be written down in he book that i am planning to write); but, one of the things that has been going on in the past 3 years has been a strange relationship with the Church – and i mean the physical building, the Methodist denomination, and the whole institution of Church. you can read one of my past reflections here. you see, i spent 7 years working as a minister in a church. and i spent 4 years getting my master’s of divinity degree (so i could be an ordained minister/pastor/priest (choose which word you understand best) in the United Methodist Church. but, that’s not going to happen now (as of last year) because i am married to a woman. i’ve not worked in a church for 3 years now (my own choice. i moved to denmark to follow a dream of working in a church there. the moved happened, but the work didn’t), and there have been times over the past 3 years that i am so glad that i haven’t been working in a church and there have been times when i miss it so badly that my soul cries. deep inside, i know that being a minister in part of who i am. i have tried to convince myself that i do not have to work in a church building in order to fulfill my calling as a minister, and that is true:  i don’t. but i also, can’t just do secular work. working in the middle of the institution of the church, as part of the church, is part of who i am called to be (as much as i don’t want it to be, in many ways). i need to use my faith in my work. i am created to be a link, a bridge between the church and society. i want my work to be in the middle of both: whether i am writing, teaching, or whatever else. but, for the past 3 years (and still today) i have been trying to figure out exactly where i belong. and waiting. some days feeling lost. some days feeling free.

well, it just may be that something has come to me. there is nothing official yet, but the local methodist & baptist church in norrköping, has offered me a part-time, some hours per week, position. this is huge for me. and i wasn’t even looking. i figured nothing was possible here. i will have an interview in a few weeks and then begin (hopefully) september 1. i am certain with every part of my being that this is meant to be. and i have waited 3 years to find a way back… not to the church. not to work. not toward something to “do”. but, a way back to me. those 5 little words “a way back to me” mean so much to me. i can’t even begin to explain that, so i won’t try. just know, it is something deep. something sacred. something whole. it’s been 3 long years of what i can only call my own, personal exile. though, it has all been necessary and beautiful. all things work for good.

the lost & panicky & frustrated-with-myself feeling i had this morning has suddenly vanished (though i know those moments will come again). tonight i feel strong, connected, inspired, and open. and my response to this gift of inner peace is to every day pull out some old books, revisit alivenow.org every day, dust off my favorite black pen, open up a blank page in a journal, close my , breathe deeply, pray, listen, and write. and i’m starting right now.

once i was lost, but now i am found. and the amazing thing is that it happens again and again as we journey through life. for, none of us are every really lost. none of us are ever alone. we are all loved. deeply. and we are all called to love. deeply. perhaps it’s time for me to begin to proclaim that message again… but, before i can do or proclaim or share anything, i must first simply be. it is time to bring the joy of the disciple of being back into my life.

oh. it feels so good to feel my soul burning again. it feels so good to be home.

peace, my friends.

market day.

this is our neighborhood square. our grocery store is here. our post office is here. a little convience store is here. a pharmecy is here. some chinese food restaurants are here. and there is a new pub that has opened up here as well (which we’ve gotta try out soon). i love this little square. it’s got all our basic needs & it’s cozy. in the winter there is a giant christmas tree all lit up… and the trees along the street have lights on them too. in the spring & summer, the fountain is full of water and on windy days, walking anywhere near it will get you wet. i walked through this square early every weekday morning from december to june on my way to my swedish classes. as i turned the corner from our street and looked up at the square, i always looked at the clock to see how late i was. hehe. i’ve been meaning to take a picture of the square on a wednesday since sometime in april… why, you wonder? because wednesday is market day. local (immigrants mostly) set up their tents and tables to sell fruit, vegetables, and other things. every wednesday i passed through the market and realized that once again i had forgotten my camera. but, yesterday was the day! i had my camera, my iPhone, and i just happened to walk through the market just before they started closing things up. so, i snapped this shot.

i love living in a city where there is a market around the corner from my apartment. i love this little market. just thought i’d share it with you.


out in the country.

we’ve been back in sweden a little over a week and a half now, and we have already made a tiny little road trip out of the city & into country to visit some friends & have dinner. every time i head out into the swedish countryside, i am in awe of the beauty. it’s not like in the southern & eastern part of the united states where there are houses, neighborhoods, and tiny towns spread everywhere outside the city limits & the cities almost seem to blend together in many places. once you leave a city’s limits in sweden, you are in the country. big time. there may be a tiny cluster of 2 or 3 houses somewhere, or even a small little village (comprised of 10-20ish houses, a church, a medical center, one little diner, & a grocery store), but other than that, it’s swedish rollings hills, forests, wild animals, and lakes/archipelago islands). so when you leave the city, you get to breathe in the fresh air and see the big sky and get away from everything. i love it.

our friends live about 45 minutes outside of norrköping (by bus) in an old, really typical swedish cottage. they have been renovating, planting (an amazing garden/almost mini-vegetable farm), and enjoying the country-life since they moved there last fall. it is a completely different lifestyle than the city life, one where everything has to be planned & there is much work to do; but, the rewards are the beauty of the surroundings and the simplicity of life. being there reminded me of my days of living in the woods on the top of a mountain in NC. i loved it, but it was so hard to commute back & forth to work. (stupid practical things.) if only i could be a full-time writer, work from home, and live in the country. or, if only i could have enough money to have a place to live in the country & and in the city. for, while my heart beats wildly for the untamed, simple, inspiring, and natural lifestyle of the countryside; my heart also skips a beat when i feel the pulse and the activity of living in a city. the people, the sounds, the activities, the electric life and eclectic people that make up a city inspire me. and the silence, the peace, and the quiet inspiration of the country give my soul rest. the city & the country. both exciting – in different ways – & both necessary in my life. in a perfect world, i would live 6 months in the swedish countryside & six months in a US city… but, i can’t complain at all. i’ve got the best of both worlds already. 2 places, 2 countries, i call home… i just need to find a way to balance my time in each place equally. ♥

so, after an amazing, home-grown, vegetarian dinner complete with wine, cheesecake (NY style) and a beautifully peaceful sunset walk around the peninsula where our friends live, we made our way back to the city. to our cozy apartment where zola was waiting for us. as we climbed into bed, with our windows open so the night breeze would keep us cool, i could hear people talking on a balcony nearby. and then, i heard it. they were playing music… john lennon’s “imagine”. a perfect way to say goodnight.


wishing you peace & beautiful things today.

love conquers hate.

” if one man can show so much hate, think how much love we can all show together.”

~ Stine Renate Håheims, survivor of Norway shootings.

spread a little love today. and help bring about peace.

another reason i love NY.

congratulations, NEW YORK, for your step into marriage equality!

and congrats also to all the newlyweds who were married today all over the state! let’s keep fighting for equality in all 50 states! peace!

# 6. home.

well, here it is. the last group of pictures from our amazing, wonderful, went-by-way-too-quickly trip to the states! we crammed a lot in, in a pretty short time period, and loved every minute of it! i must admit that it has been hard to come back & leave the states just when we were really getting back into the groove of things. there is a sense of freedom there (and not the patriotic, the USA-is-better-than-everyone-else, poor-people-who-live-in-the-rest-of-the-world freedom that most americans think of when they hear the word “freedom”) that i feel that is unlike anywhere else. it’s an internal freedom, a carefree-ness. perhaps it comes from the fact that the USA is so big and so unbelievably diverse. you can be whoever you want there. and there’s that feeling of adventure, along with a relaxed way of living (except for those who choose to live in the midst of a crazy, corporate life, amassing things that they never have time to enjoy), the possibility of spontaneity in every day life. i can’t describe it well. i’s just a feeling, and i got a taste of it for 3 weeks this summer. and it was wonderful!

not that there aren’t many, many things i appreciate about living in sweden. first, the fact that i can live here & my marriage is recognized. (something which is not possible for lina in the states… yet.). and then, there’s the social system. i’ve just been added to the population as one who has rights to get help, assistance, a job (and help finding it), money for studying swedish (and i studied for free), cheaper doctor’s visits… i could go on. plus, i get to walk everywhere, or take public transportation, which allows me to do my part to help the environment. and the amount of environmental awareness in this country as a whole is phenomenal! so a country where they care about each other/take care of each other, take care of the environment, ensure equality for all people (even immigrants), have mandated month long vacation time for everyone, drink coffee & sit with each other on a daily basis, have beautiful old buildings & interesting, new architecture in their cities, and have a breathtaking landscape is an amazing country to live in! i do love it here…

and i do love it in the states. the thing is, i am overwhelmed by the fact that i have two amazing, different, and beautiful places which i call home. i realize that many do not have even one place to call home. so, i am aware that i must never take that for granted. i am blessed. and i am so thankful for both of my physical homes. however, there would be no true home without my love by my side. so, these last few photos are of us… soaking in and enjoying our moments in the states. wherever i am with my love… that is my home. ♥

 my love & me. at home… all over the world.

thanks for reading & following. peace, brothers & sisters.

interruption: a day of intense news.

copies of last week’s usa today & ny times. i got them on the plane & i just can’t seem to throw them away. 

it’s late saturday night. and all is quiet outside, for the most part. i can hear the water in the fountain across the street through our open windows, and every now and then a far-off voice or 2. but, there are no cars driving by, no laughing & shouting people walking on the streets below, no “party” music playing from our neighbors’ apartments. not a typical saturday night, it feels like. i realize that i am interrupting my series of USA posts, but i just had to.

it didn’t feel right to not write & reflect a little on all the happenings of the past 24-36 hours. and a lot has happened all around the world. tonight, and all day, my mind has shifted back & forth from one thought to the next, and then back again.

closest to home, there is the news of the terrorist attacks in neighboring norway. it has been on the news non-stop here in sweden. and if it’s not playing on our tv, my love & i are checking the internet, twitter, & facebook for updates. it’s tragic. it’s scary. and it has been an emotional day for all scandinavians. the senseless violence, which seems to have stemmed from a norwegian man (not sure if others are involved yet, or not) on a government building and a youth camp, has shocked these liberal, open, and peaceful societies. the reality is that there are people within these countries (denmark, sweden, & norway) who have strong nationalistic beliefs, and are in complete disagreement with a society that provides an opportunity for all people, regardless of race, religion, or nationality to live in their countries. there are people, and political groups, who want to keep sweden, swedish. get my drift? they complain that the muslims, africans, and other nationalities/religion other than western christians, should not be allowed in. these people/groups seem to have no room for acceptance, tolerance, and diversity in their lives. something that goes completely against what i believe christianity to be about. whether this shooter is one of these nationialistic norwegians remains to be seen, but it sure appears that way so far.

it is gut-wrentching to read or hear the stories of the young survivors from the camp on the island where at least 84/85 have been killed. teenagers. i can barely believe it. and the bombs in oslo… so scary. yesterday i felt some familiar emotions creeping back into my consciousness – fear, anger, disbelief, confusion, a desire to call everyone i loved. but, today, as things have sunk in, i have tried to hold on to the inspiring words of others… words like those of norway’s prime minister who said that norway will retaliate with “more democracy” and “humility”. wow. yes. wherever there is terror & violence we will fight back with by reaching out for more love, more respect, more acceptance, more diversity, more peace.

then, in the US, my not-so-near home, it seems that people cannot seem to come together at all. what in the world do people think will happen if no one can seem to figure out how to compromise? are there adults who are  really going to act like a bunch of children who don’t get what they want and then just walk away? well apparently so. (i’m speaking of the inability for washington leaders to come to a consensus, an agreement, a compromise on the budget issues, in case you weren’t sure). i don’t understand. we don’t always get what we want in life. rarely do we get everything we want in life. but, we must work together. we must learn the art of patience & compromise. we simply must.

and finally, amy winehouse – a fantastically unique and special musician – was found dead in her apartment today. it is no secret that she has struggled with a drug and alcohol addition for years. but it’s so sad. to lose someone so talented.

all of this leaves me thinking only one thing: live every moment to its fullest! embrace life and love yourself & others with wild abandon. make every second count and always reach back to help someone else along. never give up hope and never be anyone except exactly who you are. breathe deeply every day. look up at the blue sky. listen to the rain. feel the warmth of the sun. be aware of what’s going on around you. smile at others. listen to music. dance. help someone. meditate. pray. just be. keep dreaming. better yet, keep working to make your dreams come true. listen when someone else talks. open your heart. tell those you love that you love them.

and always work for peace.

# 5. new york city!

what i can say about this crazy city that’s known as the crossroads of the world? it’s fantastic & amazing!! i’ve been there several times, but i’ve probably only spent a total of 3 days there. and every time i was there, it was for some other reason… an interview, leading a youth mission trip. so, this was the first time i was there with no responsibilities except to ensure that my love and i enjoyed every minute. and that we did! after 2 weeks at the beach, a trip to asheville, and then a few days back at the beach we headed up to NYC in my parents’ rv. (by the way, they are amazing for driving us up & down the eastern seaboard!). it was a confusing time of emotions for me… leaving the beach area & my family, knowing it would be a while until i set foot on NC soil again, and heading to the Big Apple for some fun. i couldn’t quite figure out my emotions on the ride up. nevertheless, the inevitable came and we said goodbye to my parents… hate that. but we were immediately swept away in a cab and driven directly to our hotel room in the middle (and i mean freaking middle) of Times Square! it was an awesome location! we spent the 2 days & 2 nights in times square, on broadway, shopping on 5th avenue, exploring central park, and soaking up all the culture, craziness, & people all around us. i can’t wait until we head back for a few more days (in the unknown future) so we can visit a few different areas which we are dying to see (greenwich village, etc.)!

but, for now, here are some snapshots of the bright lights & big city!

just one short block away from our hotel room lies this madness… love it!

we are heeeeeerrrreeee!!!!

all the people. all the noise. all the lights. it’s electrifying!

our cozy little NYC home for 2.5 days. i recommend it because of it’s location!

good morning, NYC!

after our starbucks fix, we went to see harry potter in 3D (at 10:15 in the morning. felt weird.) – on the day that it opened in the States!

a little rock climbing in central park. who knew? well, i didn’t.

ok. there is one thing i was dying to do… see the Dakota, the apartment building where john lennon lived (and was killed, as well). we walked and walked to get to the upper west side, and couldn’t find the building anywhere. i was certain of the address, but the only thing that was there was this building under renovation. seriously, what would be the chances that the Dakota was being renovated while we were there? well, after asking around, i found out that indeed, this was the correct place. and it was indeed under renovation. so, there you go. the Dakota. in all it’s scaffolding-covered glory. unbelieveable. but, once i thought about it, it was fine. i mean, i was walking all over john lennon’s NYC neighborhood. freaking amazing. 

upper west side homes. gorgeous.

woo hoo! and on this coming sunday, marriage equality will become a reality in the state of new york. YES! 

just a few hours after this picture, we were on our plane headed for sweden. thank you, NYC, for giving us a great time!!!

tomorrow is the last post from our summer 2011 USA trip… so be sure check it out!


# 4. i left my in ♥ asheville.

there is no other place like it. i know i’ve written about asheville several times, but seriously. it is a unique and wonderful place! the mountains of NC are amazing, beautiful, peaceful, wild, and inspiring… from the rivers, to the woods, to the mountaintops, to the dirt roads, to the history, and the hidden coves yet to be discovered. it is a place to get away. to get back to nature. to enjoy the opportunity to slow down and soak up everything that is around you. the city of asheville (which is in the middle of the mountains, & about the size of norrköping = 130,000-150,000 people) is diverse, alive, colorful, entertaining, artsy. a haven for all things hippie, earthy, environmental, cultural, open-minded, eclectic. a place where you can learn, observe, grow, dance, create, and just be. i know i’m making it sound too good to be true, but i’m telling the truth. there is no place like asheville & the mountains of NC.

after the beach week with my family, lina & i headed up to the mountains to visit friends and to feel the beats of our hearts in asheville. it was a super quick, 36-hour trip, but it was amazing! i lived in the NC mountains for 11 years, part of the time in the middle of nature, part of the time in a small town, and part of the time in the middle of asheville. lina lived with me in asheville for about a year as well – i believe we will always consider it home. our hearts are there. our souls are there. and so now, i share that little corner of the world with you…

instead of writing a long, rambling post about how much i love asheville, i thought i’d simply sum up this indescribable heaven on earth found in the southeastern usa using 10 words and lots of my photos of the city. take a peek!

1. natural




2. diverse




3. beer





4. hippie






5. music





6. architecture


DSC_0537 - Version 2



7. food



8. historic




9. relaxing



10. funky







namaste. liz ♥