oh how i love birthdays. and my love. and asheville. and norrköping.

especially when it’s mine! that’s right saturday was my birthday & it was a great day spent with my love! we worked on packing our bags (we are leaving for greece TOMORROW!!), made nachos for lunch, watched a movie, and just enjoyed each others’ company before lina had to go to work for the night. when she left, i headed downtown the walk around and check out this culture night thing happening in the city. and man, it was fantastic! i didn’t have that much time to be lazy and take in everything, but i soaked in the moments that i had.

i have said many times how much i love asheville (one of the cities where i come from in the mountains of north carolina) because of it’s culture, diversity, funky-ness,craziness, art, and hippie, nature-loving atmosphere…. well, tonight, a little bit of asheville came to norrköping! as i walked around the city at just about dusk, i snuck into little art galleries, shops, churches, and hotels. it was all about the little independent business tonight, and they all had something to offer. poetry readings, a chance to draw on the floor of a cathedral, weird & cool indian music, candles in every little store, music all over the place, arts & crafts. it was like a little piece of funky asheville landed on my doorstep tonight. i loved it!!

now it’s really late. i’ve cleaned, packed, and am seriously ready to go to bed. gotta get up and work at the church in the morning, then i’m all set to catch a plane. woo hoo!! can’t wait for my love & i to have a break and just be together. and in a beautiful place too. so, i’m off for a few days. but, i’ll return with pics galore – would you expect anything else?!

my birthday breakfast! a swedish tradition: make breakfast for the birthday girl (or boy), sing, & bring the breakfast & presents to her in bed. i love this tradition!

a beautiful fall day!

the birthday girl on her walk around town.

ok. here come a lot of pictures… ♥

gazing at an art gallery.

the inside of the hotel i discovered the other day. wow!!

i loooove this music store!!

the inside of it! and it smells like incense… be still my hippie heart.

book sale on the sidewalk! cool.

a cozy little store i had never seen before. tonight filled with dreamy, weird, tribal music. it just keeps getting better.

church filled with music & art. anyone could just walk up & join the choir and learn some songs. or grab some crayons & draw on the paper going down the aisle. or just sit and be quiet. a feast for your senses and creative side!

my addition to the art. peace. equality. love. what else?!

weird, but entertaining. hehe.

music everywhere. all kinds. love that.

one special area of the city. cozy. cozy. cozy.

teenagers street dancing!

have a wonderful week!!! peace, equality, and love. always.

happy fall!

it’s here! this beautiful time of year!!! cool, crisp air. colorful leaves. fuzzy blankets. cozy, warm homes. and soon… pumpkins!!

the entrance into our apartment.

outside our kitchen window. just lovely.

happy first day of fall!!! peace.

wednesday’s balancing act.

i’ve only worked there for about 1 month, but my co-workers at the church celebrated my birthday with me with a wednesday morning fika! the secretary of the church had a birthday last friday & mine is coming up, so we decided to have a cooperative birthday fika wednesday morning. in sweden, the birthday tradition is to invite people to your own birthday fika and prepare everything for them; so she brought lots of delicious, fresh bread & all the fixin’s for sandwiches and i brought the cake. sweden is over-the-top amazing with their pastries, baked-goods, and cakes – as you can see. if only you could have tasted! we set the table and had about 12 people there to enjoy a cozy morning fika in the church’s cafe. what a great way to start the day!

after lunch & more work at the church , i headed to my swedish “class”. it’s not really a class. it feels more like a free, private tutor. go me! i am continuing my swedish language education through an online course, and i meet my teacher every 2-3 weeks to go over what i have done and take a few little tests. it’s really informal & relaxed, and we move at my own pace – so it can go as quickly or as slowly as i want. i’d love to just fly through it all, but realistically, i must balance my work at the church, my “internship”, which is not officially an internship right now, my swedish class, and my family life. nevertheless, the class feels fantastic and i am glad to be studying & pushing myself even harder with my swedish!

on my way to the school where i met my teacher yesterday, i came across a few beautiful fall-ish scenes. even though i was walking in a drizzly rain, with gray skies all around, and a chill in the air, i enjoyed it. i mean, it’s almost officially fall (tomorrow!), and besides, there’s nothing like the warm, vibrant colors of the leaves to serve as an antidote for the dark, dreary skies.

my school.

after school, i headed to my internship (lina’s job) for the weekly wednesday night meetings. let me just say that sitting with 15-20 young people, watching them grow as leaders, seeing their strength and individual personalities, laughing with them, and talking with them leaves me feeling so inspired. and there are tons of questions and thoughts rolling around in my head these days, and i feel pulled in lots of different directions, but, seriously… how lucky am i? coming home to my love and my sweet kitty every night puts everything in perspective. i may be busy trying to balance my life, but i am so lucky, so blessed.

peace.

little discoveries.

i had some errands to do today, and as i was on my way home i turned down a street about 2 blocks from my apartment. it’s a street that i walk down frequently, but it’s not my usual route. and every time i do walk down it, i get so annoyed because there has been so much construction stuff going on. it’s just been an ugly block lately. i don’t know why i went this way this afternoon, but i’m glad i did. within just a block, i realized that a lot of the construction/renovation was complete & i discovered lots of little hidden treasures…

i remembered that lina and i had read or seen something about a hotel that had opened up on the street, so i decided to check it out. but, before i made it to the hotel, a store front window caught my eye. i was not sure what kind of store it was, but it looked chic, hip, funky. i was intrigued, but i did not go in. instead, i just window-shopped a little & decided that i’d make a little visit inside another day. i was feeling so excited to have discovered something new!

as i checked out the cute, little shop, i noticed a poster in the window. it was advertising an upcoming event in norrköping. this coming saturday afternoon/evening/night is the annual culture night (kulturnatten). i’m not really sure what it entails (i have no idea what lina & i were doing last year and why we missed it), but it is an event all over the downtown area of the city with lots of music, art, drama & other cultural (duh.) things.  i will be sure to take part in it this year!!

after i finally peeled myself away from the little store, i looked across the street and saw the new hotel. i’m not sure if it is open yet, but if it’s not, it sure is close! of course i crossed the street and began pressing my nose against the windows… hehe. i am dying to go in, because it looks amazing! but, i couldn’t muster up the courage. think i’ll wait until i am certain that it is open. however, what i saw from the outside seemed to be stylish, modern, & cozy – lots of pillows, fluffy furniture, and candles. and i could see through to the back – which also looked unbelievable! i saw a bunch of wood & some greenery, so i have no idea what’s back there. gaaahhh. i am so curious! i really hope that they do well. what a cute boutique-style hotel in our neighborhood! perhaps lina & i should support them by going there for dinner one night. hehe.

when i finally tore myself away from drooling over the new hotel, i kept walking down the street toward home. i had barely gone 20 steps before i noticed a little entrance into an inner backyard area that was open. most of the time i never go into these places (because they are private), but this one advertised a few businesses, so i took a deep breath, crossed my fingers, and went in, ready to play dumb if anyone questioned why i was there. as i walked through the passageway and entered the “backyard area”, i realized that this was no ordinary backyard. in fact, it was a passageway that wound through some trees and out to another street. it was perfectly quiet and beautiful. what an awesome find in the middle of the city!

so, here’s what i was reminded of again today. never be afraid to take a different route, to try something new. never forget to open your eyes a little – i guarantee that you will see something new, even in something that is old & familiar. and never judge something solely from the outside – it may actually be a cute little boutique, or a classy new hotel, or a bunch of trees in the middle of boring buildings. we never know what we might find if we simply open our eyes and look around, if we’re willing to explore a little and take some risks.

here’s to wishing you a day filled with new surprises, beautiful things, and peace in your heart.

“there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. it’s easy.”

moon

what if everyday we felt like we were exactly where we were supposed to be?  what would life be like then? but, we don’t think that way… or at least i don’t. i haven’t. on happy, sunny, exciting days i felt like i was exactly where i should be in life – where i lived, where i worked, everything. but on gray, ordinary days i began to wonder if i was doing the best i could where i was, or was there something else out there for me? was i meant for more? i struggled with the thought of being called to something greater and being called to hunker down exactly where i was. i didn’t exactly know where i needed to be. where i could best be used.

but, in the midst of constantly questioning myself, and feeling restless one minute and completely content another, i worked hard to be still enough to hear my soul speak to me. the truth that i heard was that it actually didn’t matter where i was. but, it did matter who i was. was i true to myself? did i allow my greatest talents & gifts to be used? did i follow those dreams that tugged at my soul for years? was i willing to be pulled out of my comfort zone? could i trust the bigger picture?

you see, i believe that there is a bigger picture. and it’s something we can’t see until we are able to look back. those days in the past that i was yearning for something more, feeling restless and bored, were necessary days. and they all make sense, when i look back from where i am now. looking back, everything ordinary becomes extraordinary. looking back i begin to trust the bigger picture and that puts a whole new perspective on how i see my todays, wherever i am. each day is filled with endless possibilities. each day is filled with mysteries and opportunities – and we usually do not understand the mysteries and fail to see the opportunities. but it’s much more simple than we make it out to be.

there is a young woman i know (but not very well) who has said to me that she feels that if she has not learned anything or if anything has not happened, then the day has been meaningless. i think we all get stuck in these thoughts at times. but, who defines what “something happening” is or what is something that is learned. couldn’t it be true that simply having a conversation with someone could be seen as something important that happened? what if that conversation was just a basic, everyday conversation for you, but that conversation meant everything to the other person? we’re always looking for these grand, exotic, over-the-top things to happen, when it’s really much more simple.

so, where we are. today. we may not understand in the moment, but it is exactly where we are meant to be, if we choose to see it that way. we can make a difference right where we are, in the middle of our ordinary lives. all we have to do is open our eyes and look around. all we have to do is open our hearts and live with openness & love.

“stay where you are. find your own Calcutta. find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … you can find calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone” ~ Mother Teresa 

peace. today and always.

födelsedagsfika. (birthday fika).

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it’s a chilly, gray sunday afternoon. i’m home, under a blanket, and just about to begin cleaning the apartment. my love is at a meeting in stockholm today and i had work at the church this morning (which went well, by the way. yes!). it feels like we’ve been going full speed ahead lately, and i’m looking forward to a cozy night with my little family later on. but, before evening comes, i’ve got to clean and do some swedish homework. but first let me tell you a little about my fantastic saturday. well, my birthday is next saturday, but lina’s working on my birthday, and then sunday we are leaving for a week’s vacation to greece!!! (not a bad birthday weekend coming up, huh?!). so, yesterday (the only free time we had), following swedish tradition, we invited some people over for an afternoon’s fika. lina baked some yummy, yummy muffins. we had cake, cookies, buns, coffee, and the swedish favorite… candy! it was a cozy afternoon/evening, and my love really made it special for me. i am so grateful!

  fun gifts! euros (for my trip to greece next week!), H&M gift card (fantastic!), and my new glasses!!!

a beautiful candle holder! dark green, with trees, and frosted glass. it’s so me! perfect.

my amazing love & me. ♥

have a peaceful sunday.