who’s ready for thursday?

in the mornings, especially during this time of year, i try to spend some time alone.  ok. zola usually follows along, as you can see. hehe. it takes a long time for the sun to come up in the mornings, so it’s cozy to sit with the advent lights in the windows & a few candles lit on the table near me. i need this time. i need time to sit, breathe, think, just be. there are many days that i’d love to just remain here all day, to be honest with you. writing, drinking coffee, reading. perhaps i’m just still stuck in that dark season place… wanting to stay home, feeling like i have no energy. anyway, this time in the mornings helps me focus. i begin my day slowly, instead of rushing around like a crazy person. there is already so much stress, so much to do. i can’t let it invade my mornings.

yesterday we had a christmas lunch at work for all of the staff. we decided on a lunch because everyone has so much other stuff already planned. dinners, parties, guests, shopping, and of course, work. so, we decided to go with something simple. we gathered around a long table, with cozy christmas decorations & candles, ate fish soup, cake, & coffee, and enjoyed about 2 hours of an uncrushed, unhurried time of fellowship.

one thing i love about sweden is that you can find yourself surrounded by people from all different countries a lot of the time. at our lunch, there were 5 countries represented: syria, sweden, congo, thailand, & usa. i love that! and all of us were speaking different levels of swedish… sometimes english in order to help one another understand everything. during this meal, i fell somewhere in the middle of ability to speak swedish. secretly, it felt really good to not be the one who had no real head of what was going on/being said. instead, i was the one who was helping to translate things. it really does feel good to have made it to that level. yep.

i am loooooging for snow. last year we had out of control amounts of snow at this time year, and we’d had it for about a month already. but, this year, so far there is only this tiny amount found here & there. it’s not everywhere. most days are still gray with a cold rain & a few wet snowflakes. ugh. i want pretty, white, piles of snow!!! i’m pretty much obsessed with the weather app on my phone these days, checking the 10 day forecast, hoping that snow will show up before christmas. please, weather gods?!

this picture was taken at about 4:00 in the afternoon. understand what i mean by the darkness? the sun is setting behind buildings by 2:00 and it’s gone by 3:00. but i am really thankful for all of the warm lights you can find in and on all the buildings.  it messes with my brain though, at 3:00 i feel like i should be going home & laying in bed by 5:00. but, no. life goes on, work continues., the day is not over at 3:00. it’s crazy & different for me! though, it does give me an opportunity to see christmas lights constantly. and i love me some christmas lights. by now, most windows are all lit up with advent lights, there are outdoor christmas trees everywhere, and people rushing about. it is, in fact, beginning to look a lot like christmas. now, all we need is that snow! (there is some in the forecast for friday, but i’m not holding my breath. so pessimistic of me, i know.)

well, it’s thursday. there’s lots to do. lots to plan. and places to be. i’m not quite ready to get moving yet, so i think i’ll have another cup of coffee & perhaps meditate for a few minutes. if you don’t meditate, i highly recommend it. just sit & breathe. for one minute. think of nothing else. i’m not saying for you to pray (because i rarely pray with words). i’m not suggesting that you think of any higher being (for whatever higher being you may or may not believe in is not outside of you anyway, i believe). just be. get in touch with yourself. soak life in. all that you need, you already have. listen to your heart. breathe and prepare yourself. and then, go… ready to receive all the adventures & opportunities waiting for you, ready to tackle the problems that lay before you. and whenever you need to though out the day, take a minute. close you eyes. and breathe. you are not alone. love lives inside you.

peace on your journey today.

i have no idea why.

 sweet old blog.

it just happened. i just sat down & started going through different blog designs from my wordpress dashboard, and i got inspired. i decided that i would decide on which design i liked the most, and then begin using it on january 1st. cool, huh? new year. new beginnings. new adventures. new design. even though i had no desire to change  the look of my blog. i love my old trusty “under the influence” design. and i had personalized it so much. oh, i’m gonna miss her. but, change is good. and unexpected change, while it’s disorienting and freakin’ scary, often leads to something amazing. 

well, you see what happened was i sat down on the sofa, and got stuck. my new design just seemed to upload itself. no waiting for a fresh new look for the new year. nope. i guess i just subconsciously decided to seize the moment. so, i’m just gonna go with it. even if i still loooove my dear old blog. she’s saved somewhere in my computer.

anyway, i’m diggin’ the new look so far. and it’ll be a great challenge to make sure that i have a picture with every post… otherwise the squares on my home page will look boring and empty. so, welcome to my almost 2012, newly-spontaneously-designed blog! hope you like it; and that you’ll keep reading to see what adventures in life, love, & travels lie ahead for this free-spirited dreamer. don’t forget to click on the top of the page to get to my home page… there is where you will see all of the cool pictures from the most recent posts!

this is THE YEAR of following my bliss… on a whole other level. join me!

 cool, new blog. p.s. beware that i will be changing little details here & there. hehe.

goodnight. peace.

follow your bliss.

a week ago, i had a little retreat with myself at home and spent some of the time reading about a new person i discovered… joseph campbell. he was a university professor, a writer, and a spiritual man… but not of any one religion (this i like). instead, he saw and taught about the threads that run through all myths, all stories, all religions. instead of focusing on the things which made religions different, he made connections and drew a bigger picture. but, what i believe he is most well-known for is coining the phrase, his own personal mantra, “follow your bliss.”

that is, live the life that you were meant to live. do all the things that feed your soul. walk on this journey in life and seek out everything that makes you feel like singing, dancing, twirling, engage in and follow your dreams. live with wild abandon and with limitless freedom. do not hold back. do not get stuck. dream big. do what may seem crazy. risk being misunderstood. squeeze out everything you can from life, and by all means, be true to yourself. deep down you know who you are. you know what makes you feel whole, what fills you with passion. so, live it.

four years ago i put this mantra into action. i understood that in order to breathe, i had to follow my bliss. but that was not my mantra… my mantra was “come what may”. inside i knew that i was going to follow my bliss (though i didn’t call it that then), to be true to who i was… and i would do that no matter what. and, if i was true to myself, my dreams, & what appeared to be my craziness at leaving behind a once stable life & amazing job, then all would be well. come what may. i believed it.

and you know what. all has been well. in fact, because i followed my bliss, all has been more than well. of course, the past 4 years have had their share of deep pain, heartache, misunderstandings, and fear. but, in the end, all has become more than i ever could have imagined. for, i had no plans really, no job, no place to live, no money stashed away, nothing concrete. only insane hope, a loving family (who also thought i was crazy), supportive friends, and a best friend, who became the love of my life. i packed everything up, or sold it all, or gave it away, and moved to denmark… where open arms waited to give me unexpected shelter, new friends & colleagues inspired me, i discovered a love like i had never known, and a cozy, danish city became my temporary home.

yes, i followed my bliss. and then i did it again. and again. and again. i’m still doing it today. and i am determined to live a life filled with bliss & joy. 4 years ago i learned what it means to turn your life upside-down based on a deep feeling that would not let me be. one week ago, i learned that what i did was called following my bliss. and i encourage you all to look inside your soul, listen to your heart, take a leap of faith, and do the same.

this is only the surface of what joseph campbell said during the 20th century. i’m certain that i will find time to read more, and upon being inspired, i will share all my thoughts here again. but, for now, i just have this simple message from him: follow your bliss.

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

~joseph campbell


in case you don’t think it’s real.

sometimes it’s hard to realize that all the suffering that goes on in the world is real. most of us are so removed from it. desensitized from it. we hear about it. think about it. feel bad about it. but it just doesn’t sink deep down inside of us. we do not cry along with those who suffer most of the time. because most of the time, those who suffer are people we do not know. only when one who is close to us suffers do we feel the pain. and that is human. i admit that it is hard to relate to pain & suffering unless we have experienced it ourselves. that is why i encourage us all to step out of our comfort zones, to not keep people who are different from us at arm’s length, to break down barriers & walls between us, to travel widely, to have an open mind, to read, to look people in the eyes, to meet new people – where they are – as they are, & to suck as much out of life as we can.

so, here. watch this. feel this young teenager’s pain. cry with him. and realize that this is real. his pain is real. and he is not the only one.

we have so much that we can do to help him & others (because there are millions of others, right around the corner from us, in our every day lives) feel that it does get better. we can help them understand that they are worthy and lovable just as they are. together we can stop this madness of hate, and instead spread a message of love, hope, & equality.

it is real. and the pain can be stopped.

and then, less than a day after young jonah posted his video, came this one as a response. (actually there are tons of responses out there… amazing.)

speak out. stand up. believe in yourself. and bring others along with you. for, you are an inspiration & have to much to give… just as you are!

spread peace, my friends.

my weekend. or something like that.

after my last little post of frustration, things settled down (= i gave up on trying to retype or salvage my original post) & it turned out to be quite a great weekend. and it’s been an unusually good mix of super busy-ness mixed with some much needed peace & quiet. i must confess, though, that all i can seem to think about is having a break during christmas… a few days in a row completely off. and then, in the middle of january, a 2 week trip to the states to visit family & friends!! YES! anyway, back to my weekend…

the weekend for me is not exactly the same day or days as it is for most of you. i work every friday & this weekend i worked all day saturday too. so, my weekend began yesterday evening & it comes to a close tomorrow morning… i always squeeze in every second of the weekend as i can, down to the last minute before i have to take on responsibility again.

i began this “weekend” (friday night) by working at my internship. we were out in the city… working with teenagers who are taking a 6 month leadership course. it was a really good night, actually. it’s always good to see teenagers who want to connect with people, give back to their community, or work on making themselves better people. i was able to really chat with a few of them; and it so amazing to hear their stories in life, talk about their dreams & hopes, & just laugh with them. the city was quiet. at least what we saw. but, then again, it’s december. super dark. and pretty cold. so, why wouldn’t you be at home watching a movie?

then after getting home late & waking way too early for a saturday (6:30. kill me.)… it was off to the church for some work. the youth group was in charge of a saturday cafe offered to the community in the church’s fellowship hall/cafe. i was hoping that about 3 or 4 youth would show up to help, that we would have enough food, & that i wouldn’t look like an idiot trying to make my way around & kitchen blurting out whatever swedish words came to mind in any given situation. turns out 8 youth came, we had mountains of sandwiches (that i made!), and tons of delicious goodies to serve to the (mostly elderly) crowd that came between 10 & 1. i actually did not look like an idiot, but i had a rather good time getting to know a few more of the adults from the church, practicing my swedish by having a spontaneous public speech for the crowd gathered (thanks to one man asking me to all of the sudden share something with the group. yes. my heart stopped for a second.), and learning more about important swedish customs & culture. what i mean by that is that the longer that i live here, the more i realize i have GOT to learn to cook & bake. it is expected. hence, the fear of looking like an idiot while working in the kitchen at the church yesterday. BUT, i made a chocolate cake, crap loads of typical swedish sandwiches, and got compliments on both. woo hoo!

my lonely, early saturday morning walk to the church. i love this building & all the lights/candles in the windows. so typical.

 i made these!! bread. butter. some caviar spread concoction. boiled eggs. tomato. lemon. dill. swedes love this. i say, “yuck”. and i can say it… i tasted it.

 people enjoying the cafe. it was quite cozy & cute. 2 elderly ladies sang & entertained the crowd with traditional swedish christmas songs. i am constantly amazed by swedes & their resiliency/energy/motivation. it was freaking cold out, & rainy, & messy. yet, all these elderly people were out, enjoying some good food, laughing, singing, living life. inspiring, i know. i would’ve been lazy & had more coffee at home.

 my typical swedish chocolate cake. it was the first time i made it… and it was a hit!

 walking home i had to pass through walls of busy christmas shoppers. feelin’ the holiday spirit? why, yes i am!

after cleaning the church, i met up with my love & we headed to her parents’ house for a quiet (hehe), cozy evening with 2 nieces, lina’s brother & his girlfriend, & her parents. we just sat & enjoyed each others company & ate craploads of food = saturday night traditions in sweden (called lördagsmys. translation: cozy saturday). we came home, discussing for like the 1 millionth time how happy we are that we live in the middle of the downtown area, & went to bed early… we were soooo tired (lina worked all day too. for once, our schedules matched up!).


a warm fire in the fireplace at lina’s parents’.

 riding the tram home.

 home sweet home. the four windows in a row (from the right) on the 4th floor are ours.

i rolled over & woke up after 9 this morning. thank you, sleep gods. stumbled out of bed, drug my feet into the kitchen, sleepily made a pot of coffee, & slithered back into bed under the covers to wait for it to brew. then, i spent the next 2ish hours right there in the same spot. oh yeah, a little bit of heaven. that’s right.  i love spending time in my bed when i have nothing else planned. but, eventually our feet hit the floor & we had some breakfast, cleaned the apartment, & did some grocery shopping for those must have items… milk, bread, chips, yogurt, cheese. wow. that was quiet a list of dairy products. oh, and stamps for christmas cards! (yes. we buy our stamps at the grocery store, as there are no post offices in sweden. really. no post offices. i’m serious. weird, huh?) no wine or beer, needed. it was already chilling in the fridge. and we have plenty of toilet paper right now… we’re trying to be more responsible & prepared. hehe. well, we made dinner & finally settled in for an unbelievable cozy evening on the sofa. just the 3 of us…

 good sunday morning, world.

 christmas cards written, sealed, stamped,  ready to send!

 sweden’s coziest living room. ♥

so, how was your weekend? hope you’ve had a good balance of fun &  rest. can you believe how quickly time is going?! it’s already the second sunday in advent.  3 weeks till christmas!

wishing you all love & peace.

sometimes i dislike myself.


i just spent the past 15 minutes typing an amazing post into my freaking iPhone about the book that i’m planning to write. i’ve used almost all of the rest of my battery. and just as i was about to add a picture… and…

i hit the wrong damn button & everything was deleted. suck.


late at night.

on wednesdays it feels like i work forever. and when i finally get home, i can’t help but turn on my computer & click on all my favorite sites… catch up with friends & family, reply to emails, play on twitter, and read blogs. even though i’m so freaking tired, it’s impossible to resist the temptation to catch up on everything. it’s how i stay connected. wow, that sounds so 21st century. so, i’ve made my rounds over the internet tonight, and it’s time now to snuggle down under my covers and just be for a few moments… soaking in the soft glow of the christmas stars hanging in my bedroom windows. time to send out some good thoughts to those i know & love. time to reflect for a moment on all that i have seen, heard, & experienced today. time to breathe deep and hold hands with the one i love. time to rest.

it’s late. and i wish you peace.