new england’s finest.

it’s that time. time to pull out the pictures from my trip home to the states; and, as usual, i’ve got plenty to share. so be ready for a few posts over the next few days! woo hoo! you feel excited too, right?

 when we left stockholm, the snow started to fall. ironic, huh? after the de-icing process, we were off!

 after about 8 and a half hours, we landed in newark, new jersey… just steps away from NYC as you can see! what a beautiful skyline!

 my parents picked us up at the airport and we made our first purchase. an amazing peppermint mocha!

we drove straight up to connecticut to meet my aunt & 2 cousins… boy, oh boy, fun times with my family! geez, i love them all so much.

we only spent one night in connecticut before we all loaded up and headed off together for a few days!

the first stop was the new england area… vermont to be exact. it is one of the few states that i had never visited before, so check that off my list of places to go! oh yeah. we were only there for a few days, but it was just enough of a taste to let me know that i wanna go back & explore the tiny state filled with mountains, forests, and cute, little new england villages. freaking adorable & beautiful!

 cozy family dinner time!!

the view when i woke up in the morning. yes, that is a ski slope right there! soooo beautiful & peaceful.

 my dad & molly enjoying some morning coffee.

lina & molly cuddling. cuties.

game time between cousins! love our sexy plaid pj pants that match the sofa. hehe.

 a typical ski resort condo. i’d love to come here regularly on the weekends!

 the ski bunnies (my cousin & lina) and me. that’s right. i don’t ski. i do much better taking pictures or drinking something in the lodge at the base of the ski slopes. hehe.

 at the base of the mountain.

 my girl can ski!!!

 hangin’ with my cousin. inside. yep.

 silly, crazy dad. cracking us all up!

 afternoon coziness.

 beautiful, picturesque vermont. can it get more american new england than this?!

 an awesome country store that has, well, everything. one of those general stores that supplied villagers with everything they needed back in the 1700 & 1800s… and they still have whatever you might need in order to be a good vermont-ian.

 like syrup. gotta get some vermont maple syrup!

 and paper masks… everyone needs one, right?

 just gorgeous!

 on the road again!! driving south to north carolina!

 we tried to find woodstock. you know, the big field where all the crazy hippies gathered in 1969. i should have been there. we never saw the field, but we took a crazy detour & found the little town called woodstock. still, a place where hippies & musicians hang out. sweet.

 still driving… a never-ending trip it seemed. but, north carolina was just a few hours away!!

and the next update… well, i’ll bet you can guess what the pictures are gonna be, right?!

peace out.

the blog world & an award!

i love the blogging world. and when i’m away, i miss it terribly.

it’s true. i miss all of you. you, who read my blog, whether i know you or not. whether you comment or not (though, i am a girl who loves a comment!). i miss you when i am away, and i cherish all of your thoughts, your comments, and your willingness to read through the things happening in my little life. this blog world has become very important to me. a place to share my thoughts, to process my experiences, and to read about your lives as well (you, who are readers & bloggers). it is a way to be connected with people from all over the world, and i am all about that! it’s so important to me to keep in touch with my near & dear, and to get to know more people; and this blog has allowed me to capture a little picture of my life in sweden for all of those i left behind in the states, and a chance to find new, never-met-before, friends who i now call my blogging friends. what a support this blog has been for me! and what an even bigger support each of you has been in my life. you may be silent or unknown supporters, but somehow i can feel all of you. and i thank you for coming by my little corner of cyberspace and sharing a part of my life.

ok. on to another thing. about a week ago, when i was in the states, i read a comment on one of my blogs which said that i was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by se perdre dans les images! thank you so much! i was totally shocked & honored to be nominated! with this award comes a few rules to follow… kind of like paying it forward. so, after a week (or maybe even 2!), i am finally doing my part.

the rules:

  • add the Versatile Award pic on your blog post
  • thank the blogger who nominated you
  • share 7 random things about yourself
  • nominate 15 fellow bloggers
  • inform the bloggers of their nomination

7 random things about me:

  • i’m addicted to potato chips & french fries.
  • one day i hope to take part in a sit-in, protest, or march for something i believe in.
  • when i was a kid, i wanted to be a detective.
  • nature is one of my best friends.
  • i believe that there is a universal truth found in all religions.
  • i loooove to drive! the longer the distance, the bigger the adventure!
  • i think everyone should really get to know at least one homeless person at some point in their life.

here are the bloggers that i pass the award on to… they are writers who make me laugh, challenge me to think, and inspire me to live. click on them and discover someone new!

(in no particular order. except that my wife is first. hehe)

thanks again for the nomination!! now get busy reading some new blogs!

peace out.

mixed emotions.

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hey, my dear readers!! just a short little post to announce that i’m headed back to sweden. i must admit, i am completely filled with mixed feelings. gaaahh. but, nevertheless, feeling good & bad, excited & heartbroken, i’m headed home tomorrow. it has been a wonderful, unbelievable time here in the states with so many chances to spend time with some very important people in my life, and i’m feeling overwhelmed & overjoyed!! but, it’ll be good to return to our cozy home & our adorable zola!

now, i’m gonna sleep for a few hours & then begin the 2 day journey home. see ya next from sweden!!!

peace out!

instagram: new england style

just thought I’d share!

i would write something under each picture, but as i am doing this post on my iPad, it would take forever, so i’m gonna let the pictures do the talking. enjoy!!

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hope you all are doing well & having a great weekend! i myself couldn’t be happier… we’ve made it to the mountains of NC & i am home!

peace!

road trip!

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Hey!! Thought it was time for a really short update… much more coming later. We’ve been in Vermont (a tiny, little, northeastern state full of outdoorsy & hippy-ish people = I love it!) since Tuesday & it has been fabulous!!! All we’ve done is laugh, eat, drink, laugh more, chit chat, and enjoy just being together (Lina did some skiing, too! Not me. I suck. But I’m great at sipping on a beer from inside the lodge!). My cousins, aunt, & uncle have a super cozy condo at a beautiful ski resort, and the view from up here is spectacular! Why, yes, I have taken a lot of pictures that I will post soon. It has been cold, snowy, & perfect in every way! We’ve been wanting to get up here for year snow, and I’m so thankful that it worked out on this trip. Sooooo thankful.

But, alas, our time in Vermont has drawn to a close, and today we’re off on another road trip. This time we’re southward bound… to North Carolina. HOME!!! It’ll take us 2 days, but it will be 2 days filled with side trips, adventures, music, & good ‘ole fun times with my parents. I freaking love road trips. Freedom. Carefree. Spontaneity. Living in the moment. Yes! Oh, my travel soul is getting so full… I’m bursting with excitement & overflowing with joy!

Ok. It’s time to watch some morning news & drink some coffee while I look out the windows at this…

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Peace & love.

what to do when you’re wide awake & excited.

Blog, of course!!

Yep. Helloooo, jet lag! It’s 5am and I’m wide awake, bursting with excitement!! I know I should force myself to try to sleep some more, but after laying here or almost an hour, I decided to write a bit.

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I have no idea how it got to be Tuesday. Sunday & Monday were one long blur… The travel began Sunday evening with a stop in Stockholm to stay with a friend overnight before our morning flight on Monday. The night was very cozy & very fun, perhaps too much fun (hehe). Let’s just say it included a nice dinner, multiple bottles of wine, and singing battles with playstation’s SingStar until 3:30 am. Fun! But, not smart, as we then had only 2 hours of sleep until our taxi to the airport. There were some tough moments at 5:45am…

The flight over was really good, though I slept perhaps a tots of 45 minutes, even though I was dead tired. But, it was smooth sailing, & I sat all cozy on my little corner watching on demand movies & tv. Geez, I love traveling like that! We arrived early, made it through customs… always a little iffy when you’re trying to get into the states. You never know who you’ll get at passport control & what kind of mood they might be in. Our guy wasn’t in a good mood, but he didn’t seem to really care. So, 2 questions & a fingerprint scan, and our passports were stamped and we were in!!!

It was soooo great to see my parents! We jumped right into our little adventures, as we made an unexpected little sightseeing tour of west manhattan, thanks to the GPS telling us to take a road that led directly into the city as we made our way north to Connecticut. It was actually perfect! It was the middle of a Monday afternoon, and a national holiday, so there were no traffic problems, and a split second of having that NYC feeling!

By dinner time we were in Connecticut with my aunt & 2 cousins, laughing, eating, & drinking together. I LOVE IT!! After catching up, filling our bellies, & enjoying a little of the Reynolds craziness, Lina & I climbed to stairs to our cozy bedroom, shut the door, snuggled under the covers, and fell asleep before our heads were on the pillow, I think.

Sounds pretty cozy… Think I’ll try to sleep a little more now before it’s time for morning coffee and then a road trip with the fam to Vermont! It feels soooo great to be here!!! I’m overjoyed right now!

Goodnight! Or good morning! Or whatever… my friends.

Peace.

here i go. again!

it’s sunday! all the craziness with work is over! the intensity went right up to the last minute, but now it’s over. i’m in the midst of my last minute preparations before i jump on a bus to stockholm later this afternoon. we’re gonna stay with a friend overnight in stockholm… looking forward to a cozy evening with her; and then, early tomorrow morning we’re headed to the airport.

can’t wait to see my parents tomorrow afternoon!!! and as if that’s not great enough, we’re headed to my aunt, uncle, & 2 cousins in connecticut for a few days. gaaahhh. gonna be fantastic & FUN! after some days in the northeast, we’re on our way south to the mountains of north carolina – to see my brother & sister-in-law (YAY!), grab some drinks with some great friends, visit the church where i used to work (and all the people there!), and just hang out at the mountain house. the idea is to relax and enjoy life for 2 weeks. sounds perfect to me.

ok, my dear blog world, that’s it from me until i’m stateside again. have a great sunday!

peace, peeps!

now this is my kind of traveling!

i don’t have time for this.

i have so much to do, and it would be so much better for me if i would get my responsibilities done first and then write here, paint my nails, play around on the internet, etc. but, i don’t work like that. nope. i am the best procrastinator that there is (something that drives my wife crazy). but, hey, that’s me. and i always get things done.

anyway, in honor of my next traveling adventure (which begins tomorrow evening!) i am going to post something written by one of my favorite authors, paul coelho. i know that it may sound weird, but even though i am traveling to my home country, to my family, to familiar places & people, i still see it as an adventure. i still see it as an opportunity to learn something or experience something new. it may be a totally different perspective than traveling to a country that i have never visited before, but why not travel to my home country  with open eyes & an open mind, ready to see things in a fresh, new way? my perspective is a bit different now, anyway, you know. my perspective now is that of one who lives in another country, and who visits her home country, which in an of itself teaches me new ways to think about & look at my motherland.

i read somewhere that when you live in another country, you fall more in love with you home country.  and that rings true to me. what i mean is: living in sweden, i am more american. and when in america, i am more swedish. i do not belong in either place, yet i belong in both places. it sounds as if i don’t have a home, or don’t feel comfortable wherever i am. but, on the contrary, i feel that i have 2 homes. 2 countries. confusing. complicated. yet, very cool.

ok. back to the text i am going to post… i must say, that paul coelho has captured exactly how i feel about traveling. and i’m sure that many of you would agree. lina & i do not desire to travel to exotic & new places in order to lounge around (though lounging is good, as i learned at the resort we stayed at in greece last year) and be served in our native language (s). we want to explore, grow, learn, meet, experience. we want adventure – to end up on the wrong side of town, to walk into a seedy bar, to see what real people look like & how they live. this is how we like to travel. this is how we want to travel.

i’m gonna copy & save this article that paul coelho wrote in my journal, so that i am reminded that anytime i set off to a new (or old) place, i remember my whole purpose for traveling in the first place. it’s a journey. the world is my classroom. and to feel my soul dancing the most, the only thing i need to do is set off, ready to soak in something new, meet new people,  and expand my horizons. traveling (in a different way) is just what i need to feed that nomad soul of mine.

Traveling in a different way

By Paulo Coelho

When I was very young I discovered that, for me, a journey is the best way to learn. I still have this pilgrim’s soul to this day, and have decided to relate some of the lessons I have learned, in the hopes that they will be useful to other like-minded pilgrims.

1] Avoid museums. This advice may seem absurd, but let us reflect a little together: if you are in a foreign city, isn’t it far more interesting to seek out the present, than the past? Usually, people feel obliged to go to museums, because ever since they were small they have been told that traveling is a search for this type of culture. Of course museums are important, but they require time and objectivity – you need to know what it is you want to see there, otherwise you will come away with the impression that you saw several things which are fundamental to your life, but cannot remember what they were.

2] Frequent bars. Unlike museums, this is where the life of the city can be found. Bars are not discotheques, but places where the people gather to have a drink, pass the time, and are always willing to chat. Buy a newspaper and observe the bustle of people coming and going. If someone speaks to you, strike up a conversation, however banal: one cannot judge the beauty of a path merely by looking at its entrance.

3] Be open and forward. The best tourist guide is someone who lives there, knows everything, but doesn’t work at a travel agency. Go out into the street, choose someone you wish to speak to, and ask him or her for directions (where is such-and-such a cathedral? Where is the post office?) If this bears no fruit, try someone else – I guarantee that in the end you will find excellent company.

4] Try and travel alone, or – if you are married – with your spouse. It will be harder work, no one will be looking after you, but this is the only way of truly leaving your country. Group travel is just a disguised way of pretending to go abroad, where you speak your own language, obey the leader of the pack, and concern yourself more with the internal gossip of the group than with the place you are visiting.

5] Don’t compare. Don’t compare anything – not prices, nor cleanliness, nor quality of life, nor means of transport, nothing! You are not traveling in order to prove you live better than others – your search, in fact, is to find out how others live, what they have to teach, how they view reality and the extraordinary things in life.

6] Understand that everyone understands you. Even if you don’t speak the language, don’t be afraid: I have been in many places in which there was no way of communicating with words, and I always found support, guidance, important suggestions, even girlfriends. Some people think that if you travel alone, you will go out into the street and be lost forever. All you need is the hotel card in your pocket, and – should you find yourself in extreme circumstances – take a taxi and show it to the driver.

7] Don’t buy much. Spend your money on things which you won’t have to carry: good theater, restaurants, walks. Nowadays, with the global market and the Internet, you can have everything you want without having to pay for excess baggage.

8] Don’t try and see the world in a month. It is better to stay in one city for four or five days, that visit five cities in a week. A city is like a capricious woman, who needs time to be seduced and reveal herself completely.

9] A journey is an adventure. Henry Miller said that it is far more important to discover a church no one has heard of, than go to Rome and feel obliged to visit the Sistine Chapel, with two hundred thousand tourists shouting all around you. Go to the Sistine Chapel, but also get lost in the streets, wander down alleyways, feel free to look for something, without knowing what it is. I swear you will find it and that it will change your life.

thank you, paul. now, with that said, i’m off to complete all my work duties. then, it’s time to pack my bags & head off on a new adventure tomorrow. i’m ready to travel, to an old & familiar place, but in a totally different way.

peace & love, my friends.

7 days and counting.

it’s late and i’m winding down with my computer, a yummy smelling candle, and some clean sheets (there’s nothing better. ok. there is. but, clean sheets are wonderful to slide in to). before i close my eyes, though, i need to write this post. i told a friend from the blogging world that i would give an update, so here it is.

holly, who’s been in japan on this amazing, spiritual-sounding, solo vacation & tour,  asked me the other day how my 30 minutes of free time was going. i am proud to say that i have made it 7 days! yep. seven days, 30 minutes a day, just to be. what a wonderful gift to myself, actually… making me feel more calm, relaxed, and at peace. being committed to this time has also made me feel more like me. more in touch with myself. more willing to begin to create space in my life so that all of my thoughts & focus throughout the day are not on myself, but on how i can be used. i’m feeling inspired, grounded, connected, and yearning to get to that time of day where i am alone with my thoughts. it’s so funny, i think, how turning inward actually leads you to turn more outward. being leads to doing. i suppose it’s the inspiration, the reminders of what’s most important in life because of the opportunity to ponder & wonder.

most days during the past week i have gotten up early in the morning, but a few times i have squeezed in 30 minutes during another part of the day. i’ve read some, written in my journal some, meditated some, and walked some. there has been no music, only the silence & me. and my thoughts, which i can rarely shut off. in any case, it feels good. and i am proud i’ve made it for a week. now, just a few more to go and i’ll have myself a new habit. yes!

soon, a friend of mine from ireland will be joining me by creating her own 30 minute zone once she gets home from visiting her family. and i’ll see if there might be another friend who joins in as well…  all in all, so far, i am thoroughly enjoying this . i’ve spent disciplined time with myself before, but i’ve always made it fairly routine & rigid. light a candle. read. write. read. write. blow out the candle. get dressed & ready for my day. and that was really, really great during that period in my life. it was exactly what i needed then. but, now, i feel more free. more creative. more spontaneous. i don’t plan at all what i am going to do. i go with the flow, the feeling i have. i listen to the voice within; and i simply grab a book, or take a walk, or make a list, or just sit there. feels perfect.

so, please, keep wishing me luck or sending me good vibes. it’s truly as if i can feel them. your support & thoughts somehow make it to me. i can feel it & i am so thankful. and if you aren’t spending 30 minutes with yourself, try finding just 2 minutes to just be. just 2 minutes. and let me know how it goes. we’ll support each other.

wishing you some peace & silence.

a little attitude ain’t bad.

it’s “no alarm thursday” and you know what that means? it means that when this post posts itself to my blog in the morning (since i’m writing it wednesday night), i will still be cuddly & snuggly under my covers, completely in the middle of some deep sleep. it also means that i’m gonna have a little attitude when i finally do wake up…

i kinda feel like shaking my head, snapping my fingers (3 snaps in a z-form. does anyone remember that?), smacking’ my lips & suckin’ my teeth. mmm hmmm… i can sleep as long as i want. boo-yeow. in your face, alarm clock. you’re not waking me up this morning. i’ll wake up whenever i damn well please. and, if that isn’t enough, there will be no work for me today as well – ok. maybe a little. but, not a lot, at least. and it will all be done from home. in my pj’s, if i want it that way. and with tons of chips & other crap to eat as i do my work. and coffee. lots of pots of coffee. there’s just this one tiny thing that’s bringing me down: it’s laundry day. and it’ll take all afternoon. but, it’s gotta be done. i can handle it, though, ‘cuz then i can begin packing. and after packing, in a few days, i’m traveling to the states & having 2 weeks of days without you, my dear alarm clock. so take that.

yep. good morning, people. i’ve got a little attitude today. thursday, you’re gonna be done on my terms. *snap. snap. snap.*

peace.

just thought i’d share.

good morning and happy wednesday! it’s the last day of the week that i have to be up way before the sun rises *happy dance*. at the end of each week, i work in the evenings/nights. at the beginning of each week, i work during the days. it’s a crazy schedule. but, definitely not boring. and the joy of those early mornings (since the pain of those mornings is obvious. hehe), is the joy & beauty of seeing the sun rise… seeing the darkness fade to light, and thinking about all of the possibilities that the day holds. who knows what comes our way during each day?

wishing you a day of beauty, love, adventures, & peace.

a little music makes the world go ’round.

perhaps the tiny bit of snow that fell last night & seems to be sticking around throughout the day has inspired me. perhaps i’m just in a good mood. perhaps i’m a little bit excited about being in the states THIS TIME NEXT WEEK! perhaps, i’m just feeling good, or i’m over tired. whatever it is, but i’m being uncharacteristically productive today. and i like it.

the only thing is, i’m having a little bit of music ADD right now… can’t decide what to listen to. when it was the christmas season, i didn’t even have to think, i just set my christmas playlists on repeat for a month and a half. now, i have to decide what kind of mood i’m in, what artist fits that mood, and i’m dying to find some new tunes to play as well… any suggestions? anyone?

well, just a short post & a few pics. gotta get back to work! ok. first, gotta make a cup of yummy, warm tea (champagne tea! thanks, v!) and light some candles. it’s getting dark. yes, i have the luxury from working from the warmth & coziness of my sofa. this morning i was social and productive at the church, now i’m doing some reflective planning from home. i freaking love my flexible, diverse work! ok. time to stop typing. really. now.

 snowy, early tuesday morning.

 the empty corner where the christmas tree used to be… just waiting for us to decide what new interior decorating project we’re gonna do!

 on my way to work this morning. brrr!!!

 a little bit of the white stuff on our street.

 yep. i just liked this scene.

 afternoon work at home. i know. i’m lucky. veeeery lucky.

ok. for real. break over. turn on some good tunes (still open to suggestions) and back to work!

peace out!

a dose of reality.

Source: marfim

tonight i got a message from a former co-worker & current friend that a mutual friend of ours (also a former co-worker) passed away last night after losing an almost 2 year battle with cancer. she was young. only 30. with 2 young children & a loving husband. she was your typical asheville, hippie, tree-hugging, dread-locks-wearing woman. only she was not typical. she & i worked at the same high school with teenagers that had difficult lives, difficult learning problems, and extremely difficult behaviors. but she was a rock. she was firm, quiet, & loving with everyone she met. and she was someone that i found that i could talk to during the time after lina & i got married and lived in separate countries  – a really difficult time for me. we met in the teacher’s lounge, or my classroom, or her classroom and we chatted. oh my gosh, she was always smiling, always positive, and always willing to help people. the earth will have an empty place where she once was.

i had no idea that her health had gotten even worse… i heard from her about 2-3 months ago & she was still fighting. but the battle was lost. and now tiny memories of her are flashing through my mind. it’s so unfair. beautiful people, young people, people who bring about peace wherever the go…. for them to just be gone. ugh.

the crazy thing is, when i received the news about my friend, lina & i were watching a movie, “in time”, about people who live in a society where they have the amount of time that they have left to live on their arm. the people in the movie can see at all times as the seconds click away from their lives. so, they must decide what to do with their time, how to spend it (because everything in this society is bought with time), or whether to share their time with someone who is running out of time. will they save it or give it away? will they sit and watch time pass or will they squeeze everything out of every second that they can. ironically, those who had accumulated hundreds or thousands of years seemed to do nothing with their time, their lives; while those who had only a day or only a few hours left lived life to the fullest. but, i guess that’s how it is, isn’t it?

what would you do? what would i do, if i knew how much time i had left? better yet, what will i do, what will you do since we don’t know how much time we have left? will we assume that we have all the time in the world? or will we soak up everything, spread happiness, take risks, live life, share our feelings, embrace it all as if we might not exist tomorrow. will we take everything for granted or will we savor each precious moment?

i’m sure my friend knew that her time was drawing to a close, but it wasn’t only then that she began to focus on those things in life which are most important. as i knew her, she savored, enjoyed, and expected much out of every moment of her life, even from the time that i met her, before she was sick. and while she is not here with us on earth anymore, she has reminded me tonight how fragile life is. she has given me the gift of reality and pushed me to try even harder to truly live life, to hug more, to laugh more, to cry more, to dance more, to see & experience more, and to love more deeply.

so, my dear friends & family, tonight i send out to you, all the warm thoughts, hugs, and vibes that a girl can send. i tell you that whether i know you or not, you are important. and i truly believe that my sweet, wonderful friend is helping all of that peaceful, positive energy get to all of you. thank you for being you. now, get out there & live your life!

goodnight, peace.

everything old is new again.

yesterday i mentioned that i went to a baby’s name-giving service (like a baptism, but not) in an old swedish building. the building, now owned by the city, was built in the mid-1700s in a place which, back then, would have most definitely been the country-side of norrkoping. now, i would say that it is within the city limits, though of course not in the middle of downtown. the sign outside the door read that it was first used as a meeting place, as well as a place for parties & other social gatherings… which, of course, is what it is still used for today. very cool, i think.

i imagined people coming by horses & carriages in the winter’s snow ready to celebrate one of the many holidays or festivals (not that we have any snow these days. ok. there is a tiny bit of white stuff on the ground in a few places, as you can see. still, it was freezing cold outside – and inside for that matter). i couldn’t wait to get inside & see what lina had said would be a building that i would fall in love with. and, oh, was she right!

when i walked into the chilly, old, wooden building i was immediately taken back in time. in the big gathering room i could almost hear the violins and accordions playing. i saw the men & women dancing around the room together, forming lines & circles. i felt the history of this old building… it was as if i was surrounded by memories of people i’d never known; and i was very thankful to have  the pleasure of joining all of those who have gathered here before to come together to remember, dance, sing, and eat. i felt honored to now be one of the many who have graced this beautiful building, celebrating one of life’s important events.

the picture above is of the main gathering room, or salon. look at that old floor. can’t you just hear all the footsteps & see all of the people dancing around in the room, dresses twirling and people clapping?!

 my love, her aunt (the pianist), and the parents. trying to figure things out before the ceremony… look at the paintings on the wall. exquisite!

glasses ready for toasting the little baby girl & welcoming her to the world!

cozy & yummy fika after the ceremony. love the simple, yet elegant decorations.

after fika, and getting to know some fun, new people, lina & i took a 30 minute walk back home. it was dark out, really cold, and a beautiful evening to take a brisk walk together. did i just say that?! am i becoming swedish? i enjoyed a walk outside at night in the cold. i walked all the way across town, thinking nothing of it, except that i wanted to do it again soon. huh?! what a change in thought for me… from a lazy, take the car everywhere (mostly because i had to), it’s too cold i don’t want to go outside for even 2 minutes american girl to a “lina, we really need to take walks like this in the cold, in the dead of winter, at night” kinda girl. what an amazing transformation. i like it!

i don’t know if a walk is gonna happen tonight, perhaps… but, i know for sure that there’s gonna be a cozy movie showing on our tv, some candles lit, and a glass of wine to wind down this week.

here’s to the end of a great weekend & a one-week countdown till we’re off to the STATES!!

peace & love (and winter walks!).

girl’s night.

it’s late & the neighbor has some friends over… for what i would call “girl’s night karaoke”. it just so happens that her living room wall is our bedroom wall, so it seems like i’m gonna be serenaded to sleep tonight. at least they’re not that bad. plus, it’s fun to hear them having a good time.

on our side of the wall, we’ve had a girl’s night too. our pre-teen niece came late this afternoon to have a little sleepover with us, and we’ve laughed, talked, made pizza, and watched some movies. it has been so cozy & fun! but, it’s late now, our niece is hopefully sleeping soundly on the sofa, my love is surfing through blogs, zola’s sleeping between us, and i’m gonna be closing my eyes pretty soon too.

i went to a swedish name-giving service this afternoon for one of lina’s high school friend’s baby. it was quite a little swedish event, and i thought it was really personal, cozy, & sweet. it was like a baptism, but not. the two parents planned & prepared everything… first, a little service –  the parents explained the baby’s names & why they chose them, presented the “godparent’s” with a letter,  and my love sang 2 beautiful songs for them. then we had fika (of course!) with some awesome cookies, cake, candles, and good swedish company to chat with at the table. i took a ton of pictures because the whole shindig was in this old, old building from the 1700s. soooo typical swedish. soooo cool. i’ll share more about it & post some more pictures tomorrow.

now, the hour is late & i must get to bed. so i’m gonna go & chat with my love for a little bit before i drift off to sleep. nighty night, peeps.

peace.

yes. i know. (update)

i’m doing it again.

re-designing & re-creating. i truly loved my photo-centered blog theme, but something inside of me just wasn’t satisfied. i kept thinking about simplicity. so, here i am. using my day off to be creative. just seeing how it goes. but, it’s fun! and hey, it’s my blog anyway, right? i can create whatever i want.

so, please be patient as i tweak some things and find the look that seems to fit. and, enjoy your friday!

update: i’m DONE!!!! woo hoo!

peace. 

i caved.

for my own mental health, i have given in to the new year’s resolution/promise thing. i figured i needed some discipline in my life. some routine. and it felt like a good decision this morning. but, now i’m second-guessing it. or maybe not. geez. i don’t know…

my plan is (was? is?) to spend at least 30 minutes every morning free of the internet & all things computer/mobile phone-related. except for music. perhaps. i haven’t decided on that one yet. anyway. i feel that to give myself just 30 minutes every morning to read, stretch, think, meditate, ponder, or write (with pen & paper) will improve my attitude, outlook, and general overall health. surely i can give myself that in 2012. who doesn’t want to be healthier? who doesn’t want to be calmer & more focused? i definitely do.

my problem is the follow through on this promise. it’s so tempting to give up on this possible promise because i don’t want to fail. perhaps i could try to make it a habit. try it for 21 or 30 days – the time that “they” say is necessary to form or break a habit – and not commit to a whole year. baby steps, ya know.

to begin the day in silence. just me & my thoughts. some coffee, some candles, or some nature (depending on where i am). a pen & some paper. a book. it sounds ideal. it sounds so peaceful. it sounds like something i want to do… surely i can give this a go. i mean, it is a new year. i’m still dealing with a clean slate, aren’t i? it’s the perfect time to begin something new, something good, something that i know is life-changing (i’ve done this before, but fell out of the habit). i can do this, right?

crazy idea… if there are any of you out there who want to join me in committing to a time like this, to use however you wish, i would greatly appreciate it (and i think it would be cool. plus there’s power in numbers & something to be said for holding each other accountable). there is something important and powerful in feeling that you are part of a community, committed to something together, even if you are not in the same place – or even the same time zone. it’s a connection that spans time & place. an informal community formed from hearts. so just email me (elre74@yahoo.com) or leave a comment here, if you want to create a morning (or afternoon, or evening), silent (computer/smartphone – free zone) community with me. i’d love the company. i’d love to feel & share the support of caring for one another as we care for our selves.

ok. it’s decided. i caved. wish me luck on my promise to myself. and join me, if you are so inclined.

peace, dear readers.

100% chaos.

i’m not complaining. just so you know.

but, it’s been a while since i worked 100%, full-time. 2012 has brought me the amazing opportunity to work part-time (50%) at my internship (which i already did in 2011) and part-time (50%) at the church. so, i’m back in the full-time, 40 hours per week working world. feels amazing! but, it’s also leaving my head spinning a little bit.

it was weird for the past year & a half, not really working. it felt really good & really crappy at the same time. good to have a break, kind of a sabbatic,l & a chance to be a little bit of a hermit (which is good for recharging the soul). but, bad in the sense that, not working can leave one feeling a little worthless.

true, i would love to sit on a beach or in a pub or just travel the world and be on permanent vacation. at the same time, i think something inside of me dies when i don’t have the stress, chaos, and busy-ness that a job creates in life. that’s right. chaos inspires me. i thrive when i am going full-speed ahead. even though i crave quiet, alone time with myself. however, i actually seem to find it more when i am engaged in meaningful work. it’s a dance between chaos & serenity. now let me be clear, even going full-speed ahead for me tends to be rather calm. i am not a work-a-holic. i may be busy on the outside, but inside i’m usually calm & at peace. of course things are running around in my head, but i’m talking about my soul – deep inside. there is a peace inside me when i’m working. perhaps it comes from the hope that what i’m doing is making a difference somewhere.

anyway, this new year has recharged me and has thrust me full-speed ahead into life again. being blessed to have 2 places of work to go to (when so many are struggling  to find work right now) fills me with inspiration. check back with me in a few days or weeks and ask me if i’m still feeling as inspired or at peace… hehe.

with that said, time is clicking away and i must go & get ready for work! hope you have a great wednesday!!

peace & serenity in the midst of chaos.

new year’s eve in norrköping.

ok, i know that it’s monday now. january 2nd. the new year celebration is over. but i was too busy sitting on the sofa watching movies all day long on new year’s day to do this post. hehe. just thought i’d give y’all a little glimpse into how i celebrated new year’s eve over here in sweden… (= mom & dad, here are the pictures i promised to show you!)

norrköping is a city of traditions, true to the swedish way of living. there are festivals, food, family, city, country, and holiday traditions speckled all throughout the year. so many i can’t name them all. but, as i was doing my last post of 2011, i realized that i celebrated some swedish tradition/holiday almost every month. there was some festive something every time i turned around… from birthdays, to st. lucia, to valborg (the last of summer), to the august festival, to midsummer, to christmas, to the new year’s eve promenade…

after a morning & afternoon of blogging/writing at home, lina & i headed out with every other person in the city for the new year’s eve promenade through the downtown area. the walk is famous for it’s candles, luminaries, & lights winding by the river and ending with a fireworks show. we bundled up & were on our way! the new year’s eve celebrations had begun!

halfway through the walk, we passed the big concert hall, which happened to be open so that people could come in, get some drinks (champagne & irish coffee!), chat a little, and warm up. for the first time all winter, it was freeeeezing outside. but i loved it! made it feel more festive, ya know? and an irish coffee too? perfect.

 as you can see, plenty of people were coming in from the cold & in a celebratory mood! we ran into some people from the church where i work, and one of them just happens to be an american from new mexico (she has lived here for 20 years! wow!). we chatted with them for a while and decided that lina & i needed to join her and another native english-speaking woman for dinner soon. it is always really, really nice to run into/talk with people whose mother tongue is english. feels a little home-y.

after the fireworks over the river, we went to lina’s parents’ home for a quiet dinner & cozy evening to ring in the new year. a fire in the fireplace, christmas music, good food…

games…

and a sparkling wine toast when the clock struck midnight! there were fireworks everywhere and we stood outside in the cold, january air, giggled & laughed, screamed & shouted, kissed each other, and got ready for the ride of our life in 2012!

so, there ya go. new year’s eve in sweden. done our way. hope yours was a good night. and i wish all of you well who, like lina & i, are headed back to work today.  meh. oh well, time for the adventures to start! i rang in the new year slowly & full of coziness, now it’s full speed ahead!

peace!

remember this as you begin your week.

yes. i hibernated this weekend. yes, it was amazing & much-needed. and yes, secretly, deep-down inside, i want to keep hibernating… drinking coffee, writing, reading, being. i confess that to you.

but, that’s not what’s in store for me today. nope. i’m back at work with my moleskine favorites: a simple black journal & a little red january calendar! of course this year will bring me some more opportunities to snuggle in & hibernate, but also more opportunities to grow, learn, experience, meet, challenge, think, do, travel, teach, learn, stretch, fail, succeed, dream, hope, walk, share, talk, cry, laugh, shout, dance, pray, and so much more. it will be good, bad, ugly, beautiful, mind-blowing, painful, disappointing, and amazing. i can’t even imagine what life will unfold for me during this year…

but, i can’t wait to find out, and i truly believe this:

happy first week of 2012! now, get out there & live life!

peace!