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.


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.”


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).

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.

sometimes simple is best.

it’s friday morning & i’ve found a little time to write. but it’s one of those mornings where i have so much to say, that i don’t know what to say. my mind is full, yet empty. i am staring the keyboard unable to decide which letter to tap first. the words are not coming. or they are so jumbled, that i have no idea how to organize them in order to make a sentence. so, i’m  gonna keep it simple.

i saw these 2 leaves on the sidewalk the other day. i share them with you, just because they are beautiful. they can speak much more loudly than i can right now. so, let them say whatever they will to you.

hope you have a wonderful friday! peace & beauty.

discrimination is the word of the day in north carolina.

my love & i. visiting home in nc.

clearly there are many things in this world that i don’t understand. but, the one that is on my mind tonight is something that americans like to call “the separation of church and state”. as i understand it, this phrase has something to do with making sure that people are not discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, and making sure that personal religious beliefs do not get written into our laws. why is this important? because if we were able to force our religious beliefs into our government, then we would not be allowing people the right of religious freedom – one of the reasons many of our ancestors came to the colonies. they were feeling persecuted and forced to abide by the into the anglican church/british government establishment, unable to worship & live as they felt called to worship & live. america’s early residents and founders did not want that to happen in this newly formed country, so “the separation of church and state” was born. christians can be christians – and whatever kind of christian they want to be. muslims, jews, scientologists, agnostics, wiccans… all can worship (or not) how, whenever, and wherever they want without fear of being persecuted. and the government can be run by any of those people as well, for not one religion is better than the other in the eyes of the state. not one group of people of faith can decide what is morally right or wrong for the entire country. that’s what churches are for. one can choose which church (mosque, synagogue, etc.) one wants to be a part of. there one meets with people who have the same beliefs and ideas. and perhaps we meet like-minded people all across our state & country, but we can be proud of that, thanks to civil rights, that not one of us is better than the other. we are free, equal, and all given the same basic rights. or are we? and when did it become ok for us to begin to force our individual religious beliefs into our political decisions. of course our personal religious beliefs inform and affect our political stances… but we cannot legislate our one faith over another. and we cannot use one faith over another to be a reference for laws. no. not in our government. not on the house or senate floor. not in the middle of our schools. for as soon as we do, then we’ve lost one of our core beliefs as american: freedom of religion.

now, i am one that most definitely thinks that the institution of the church (as i am a christian) is both necessary and a pain in the ass. i want people to come together for worship, to build up a community of faith, to grow spiritually, to experience grace, and to serve others. but, i do not believe that my government has to tell me to do that. nor do i believe that my government has to tell everyone to believe like me, live like me, or love who i love. i do not need the government to legislate what is morally right and wrong. my hope is that all of us (of whatever religion & belief) , and especially individuals who make up the government use their hearts and minds to make decisions for our states and our nation which reflect values of justice, equality, peace, and love.

but, right now, as i write this, the government in my home state, north carolina, is debating an anti-LGBT amendment. the authors and supporters of the bill/amendment want to be sure to secure the language in the NC constitution so that same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are all banned. but, guess what? same-sex marriages and civil unions are already illegal in nc. so, basically, lawmakers they want to write discrimination INTO the constitution. and folks, this is 2011. the states struggled with discrimination and civil rights back in the 60s. it’s 50 years later, and there are people in NC who want to go backwards in time, restricting civil rights and making it law as to who one can love. and what are they basing this amendment on? their personal faith.

equality supporters are not asking every church, synagogue, mosque or person of faith to endorse and conduct same sex marriages. but, we are asking… no we are begging, our state to not take away our civil rights = the rights that all humans have simply because they are humans. we are only asking for our marriages to be recognized, or to be able to go to a courthouse & get married, or have a contract drawn up so we can visit our loved one in the hospital. do you know that when i filed my NC tax return this past year, i had to file as a single person? let me stress again, we are not asking for every person to endorse, condone, or conduct same sex marriages. we are not asking for legislation that says that churches have to marry everybody. we are simply asking to not be treated as second-class citizens, not worthy of all civil rights.

but, all of what we are asking for is not even close to what we are thinking about today. that’s future stuff. today, what we are crying out for is not legislation saying that we can get married in a courthouse. we are crying out to our state to please NOT ADD more discrimination to NC’s constitution. please, do not try to legislate your religious beliefs on all of us. do not use the Bible as the foundation of your argument to ban all same sex unions. pleeeease do not add an amendment that adds discrimination into our state laws. who i love does not hurt you, your faith, or your marriage. who i love makes me a better person, not a person to be feard, hated, and bullied. i promise. you do not have to be afraid of me or my marriage.

however, the debate continues. i’ve written letters. i’ve sent emails. i’ve been to a rally. i’ve signed petitions. and i’ve posted blogs. i’ve done what i can from over here in sweden. and one day, i hope that my love and i can visit NC and hold our heads high, proud of the state which we call one of our homes. right now, though, all i can do is wait & hope.

** news update at 12:15 am (sweden)/6:15 pm (NC)**

“The North Carolina House of Representatives passed today, 75-42, a proposed anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment that would ban marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and other relationship recognition for same-sex couples.” Now the amendment goes to the Senate for debate.

how can this be happening? nc, you are better than this. i am embarrassed and ashamed. still, i cling to hope.

peace & love. for all.

monday morning is here.

typical autumn monday morning weather. gray & rainy. makes me wanna crawl back under the covers, hide a little, sleep a little, and feel all snuggly and warm. but i resisted the temptation & got up. made some coffee, washed my face, and began my day with some quiet time. i’m glad yesterday is over. i’m glad that today is here. a new day. full of promise & hope (even if it’s rainy & gray). so i’m not gonna crawl back into my unmade bed and let the world just pass by. no. i’m headed out the door soon… not knowing what i will meet or what i will face, but knowing that today is another day that i have been given. so, i’m gonna do my best to make the most of it, for there is always something to learn and always a way to make a difference. happy monday!