the last day of april & a challenge for may.

FINALLY!!! the weather has taken a turn for the better & there is an abundance of sunshine and semi-warm weather (= i still have to wear a jacket). my windows are open, my sunglasses are stashed in my bag, the blanket is out & ready to be used in the park tomorrow, and the sun is beating down from a brilliant blue sky. spring has actually arrived! and it’s right on time.

today & tomorrow are a kind of spring holiday in sweden… called valborg. it’s a coming of spring celebration with grilling out and hanging with people. tonight swedes sing in the spring with big bonfires. super fun! it’ll be my second valborg, so i know the drill this year, which feels good. the only crappy thing is that lina & i are both working = not celebrating in the same place or in the same way. oh well. we gotta try to enjoy the celebrations where we are. me with the church group out in the country; and lina in the city, working with the youth. no matter what, we can’t help but enjoy this weather!

 today’s blue sky & bright sunshine.

so, out with the old winter, and in with the new spring. woo hoo! which reminds me… here come the last 2 pics from the photo a day april challenge. love my instagram challenges.

day 29: circle. i love my funky, retro kitchen radio with all its circular knobs.

day 30: something that makes me sad. the continuing struggle for all people to be accepted & ordained in the UMC.

and now… presenting the photo a day MAY challenge!!! you know you wanna join in. it’s so much fun to be challenged to see something creative in every day. it’s kinda like a little gratitude, stop-&-smell-the-roses kind of daily discipline. it’s really good for the soul, i think.

wondering how to do it? well, it’s easy.

  • just read the challenge for the day and interpret it however you like.
  • snap a photo with your phone or camera
  • then post your pic wherever you want. on instagram (using your phone), on twitter, on Facebook, on your blog. on pinterest. or all of those places!

i have gotten into a little groove of posting everyday on instagram & pinterest, and once a week here on the blog. i may change it up this month & post a pic daily on the blog & then use that picture as inspiration for writing. i can’t decide, but you’ll find out tomorrow! for now, here’s the may challenge!

this month is gonna be fun. especially since i’ll be in paris for a few of the days!

happy snapping! peace.

music makes me emotional sometimes.


(blackbyrd performing at a charity concert)

i’ve heard some really great music today. stuff that fills my soul. calms me. makes me close my eyes & just be. i let the music- the instruments & the lyrics wash over me. and in those moments, i just felt whatever i felt… despair, hope, homesick, love, inspiration, fear. there are times when it’s ok, ya know, when it’s even good, to just feel your emotions. all of them. and to simply be & breathe.

wishing you peace & rest as you prepare for a new week, my friends.

week 4: photo a day. april.

here we go. the last installment of april’s photo challenge. i seriously cannot believe that may begins on tuesday! 2012 is flying by. hope that you’ve had a good week (mine’s been full, and i’ve had a cold, still, it’s been good) & that you’re ready to begin a new challenge with me in may. come on, you know you wanna. of course i’ll post the may challenges on monday (along with the last 2 pics for april). for now, here are the ones from this past week. geez i loooove this challenge. oh, and one more thing, just so you know… all the pics are taken with my iPhone 4s, using the instagram app. the collages were made with the pic frame app. so easy & so much fun.ok. time for pics!

day 22: something i bought. we bough a gift for a friend’s new baby. loved the cute dinosaur wrapping paper.

day 23: vegetable. i had a yummy baked potato with avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, & cottage cheese for lunch. delish.

day 24: something(s) i’m grateful for. my marriage, my job/work,rainy days, the city where i live, my girls, sunny days.

day 25: looking down. on my way home from work… looking down my street.

day 26: black + white. some things around the apartment.

day 27: where i went. on friday, after a meeting, my love & i went to out favorite pub to get the weekend started off right.

day 28: 1pm. at one o’clock this afternoon i was gathering all the things i needed for my afternoon out with my love.

that’s all, peeps. hope your saturday has been a good one. i’ve still got a ton of blog posts rolling around in my head. and, as for the who methodist church convention thing, it’s still going on. i will for sure have lots to say about that in a few days. off to bed now, a day of work tomorrow, and then a very special swedish spring holiday on monday/tuesday. more to come on that at the beginning of the week. plus more pictures. of course. i can’t stop taking pictures these days. but that’s a good thing, i guess. i feel as if i’m expressing myself, getting a chance to be creative. ok. enough typing. i’m rambling.

goodnight & peace.

better late than never i always say.

two-ish weeks ago i received 2 comments which notified me that i had won 2 different blog awards. wow! cool! well, it has been super busy in my life, and i have had blog posts & ideas for blog posts coming out my ears, so it is only now that i am finally getting around to responding to those awards. but, at least i’m doing it now.

1. the versatile blogger award.

the fun american chick from NYC who now lives in sweden over at somethingswedish gave me this award. i admit, with a little embarrassment, that this is the second time i have been awarded this one. needless to say, i am unbelievably honored and excited that a fellow expat here in sweden thought of me! she has just moved here (about 4-5 months ago, if i remember correctly) and it is extremely entertaining to read about her new experiences and vicariously live through her first year adjustments to living in sweden (reminds me much of my first year, and brings back good memories!). it’s a good read, and i truly suggest that you stop by & check her out. thanks, girl!

since i won this award previously as well, i’m gonna skip out on the rules and instead send you to my previous post, the one i did when i won the first time. the blogs that i mentioned there are still wonderful blogs & they have become part of my daily reads. they are my first true connections in this blogosphere, so i hold them dear to my little blogging heart. click here & find some awesome new blogs to read and 7 fun things about myself that you didn’t know!

2. the beautiful blogger award.

this is the first time i’ve been awarded this one! makes me happy that someone thinks of my blog as beautiful. what a compliment. thanks to leigh over at bluegrass notes for thinking of me! leigh’s blog is beautiful in what she writes about… she makes me feel calm & offers wonderful, interesting thoughts on living a healthy, spiritual, whole life. check her out! thanks again, leigh.

now on to the fun!

5 beautiful blogs you rally should check out!

  • 365 to 30. an inspiring & gorgeous blog about a young woman’s year-long journey to her 30th birthday. love the pics!
  • the urban hippie. i love this chick’s pictures. sooo beautiful. give s me a great little USA fix whenever i need it.
  • 400 days to 40. another beautiful blog about one’s journey toward a milestone birthday. i’m so gonna do this since i turn 40 in 2 years!
  • linköping with love. i can’t believe i stumbled onto a beautiful blog by an american who lives in a city 30 minutes from me! we gotta meet! and you gotta check out her pics!
  • kill ’em with curls. i love this beautiful blog! kimberly is creative and poetic, and her blog is simple & beautiful.

i highly recommend these girls above and i am so happy to pass of the beautiful blogger award to them! the beauty lies in various things in each of their blogs, and they are each beautiful in their own unique way.

happy reading & happy blogging!

sending you all some saturday peace.

pink is not usually my favorite color.

but, today, i’m all about that girly, happy, soft color. just look at the weather we’re having on this first day  of the weekend!!! one of the swedish newspapers is calling it a “super weekend” – it was payday (everyone gets paid on the 25th of the month), it’s gonna be summer-y warm, and it’s a long weekend (the end of april/beginning of may/coming-of-spring celebration monday & tuesday!). sounds like a super weekend to me! and what a way to get it started!

helloooo, spring! 

enjoy your friday, peace-making peeps!

tapping into our inner atticus finch.

i’m sure i’ve mentioned it before sometime… (here.) my favorite book of all time. to kill a mockingbird by harper lee. well, as i was catching up on some news this morning, i ran across a blog post relating the book’s main character, atticus finch, to the votes on equality & inclusion facing the methodists at the conference in florida these next few days. it is an amazing post. short, simple, to the point. and since it discusses issues that are near & dear to my heart in light of the main character of my favorite book, i just had to post it here to share with all of you.

i most definitely could not have said it any better, so here’s the post below: (or click here to go to the website).

The African Americans (we were called “Negroes” then) were in the balcony of the court room after the jury had found Tom Robinson guilty of raping a white woman. Rev. Sykes, the Negro preacher, had invited the children of Atticus Finch, the white lawyer, to be with them in the balcony because the court room was so crowded.

Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) sat in the court room after everyone else had gone out, but the Negroes remained in the balcony with his children, waiting for him to leave.

As Atticus Finch got up and walked to the doors of the courtroom, passing under the balcony, Rev. Sykes had everyone stand up (he had to coax the daughter of Atticus Finch to stand up). They stood because this was their way of honoring a white man whose conviction and conscience about rightness and fairness were so strong that he dared go against a history and a culture of prejudice and bigotry that in so many ways said that Negroes were unworthy of respect, equality, and justice.

As I saw that scene, I thought of another white man of long ago. His name was Gilbert Haven, a New England Methodist preacher who became a Bishop. He was an outspoken ally and advocate of black people who felt that the bans against interracial marriage, from a faith and democratic perspective, were wrong.

My preacher father and my mother named me Gilbert Haven Caldwell, not because my father was named for him, but because they, like Rev. Sykes, believed that those who allow their conscience, rather than a culture of bigotry to guide their words and actions, were worthy of respect.

I wonder how many United Methodist delegates in Tampa, when matters related to same-gender loving persons come up for discussion and vote, will allow their inner Atticus Finch to come forth? Once, many persons used the Bible to support their bigotry against persons who were black. Today, there are those who ignore Jesus and the message of love in Scripture as they judge and condemn persons because of whom they love. But hearts are changing.

I believe some delegates who have been unable to be “Atticus Finch” before now will remember him in Tampa as they vote “yes,” to affirm the humanity, equality, and God-given gifts of all those who are called to serve God, regardless of whom they love or how they express their gender.

How could they do anything else in light of Jesus command to Love Your Neighbor?

~ Gilbert Haven Caldwell, Jr.. A Retired United Methodist Minister

i am holding onto hope that everyone’s “inner atticus finch” will guide their thoughts and actions in florida during the next week. actually, in all areas of life, we all could learn to let our “inner atticus finch” lead us.

wishing you all peace & love for your neighbor.

dear prudence.

a little music for you: Jim Sturgess – Dear Prudence

celebrate something today. anything. whatever. even the smallest thing. drink a glass of wine. hug someone you love. share a smile. write a funny note. spread some sunshine, even if it’s raining. look around you. it’s another day. and we’re alive…

so, live it up! happy thursday, friends!


things i love.

if you know me, then you know that there are a few things that i truly love…

  1. i love my wife. so, so much. she is my everything.
  2. i love the united methodist church (umc), of which i have been a member my whole life. it’s in my blood. grace, love, hope, the important balance between social & private faith.
  3. i love my calling to be ordained in the umc. ok. truth be told, it’s been a long journey. so it’s a love/hate relationship.
  4. i love all things that support equality for all people.
  5. i love faith & spirituality that is based on relationships & acceptance, rather than rules.
  6. i love inclusion, rather than exclusion.
  7. i love daises.
  8. and i love rainbows.

right now, in the united states, there are a bunch of things happening that affect all these things i love. way over here in sweden, i’m a tiny bit addicted to my twitter feed, following the news coming out of north carolina and tampa, florida. what’s happening, some of you wonder? well, let me explain. one thing at a time.

1. in north carolina, the early voting has begin on Amendment One… a proposed change to the NC law in which the new law would say that “marriage is only between one man & one woman”, thus making it impossible for same-sex marriages to be legal or recognized in the state. plus, a whole crapload of other things. but, let me make this clear… the laws already forbid NC to recognize same-sex marriages, so it’s already impossible to be married to my wife there. in fact, right now, nc already considers me single. how sick is that?! this amendment is taking law that is already against equal rights & writing more discrimination INTO the nc law. seriously. in 2012. we are considering becoming MORE discriminatory in nc. makes me feel sick to my stomach. all this means that  lina & i will continue to have no choice of where to live. sweden it is.  because here we’re married and not discriminated against.

the only way we move forward (or actually just stay where we are, which is still unrecognized as a couple), is for everyone to VOTE NO, to vote AGAINST the amendment between now & may 8.

needless to say, i’m glued to the nc news right now. it’s so important to me.

2. in florida, the united methodist church (umc) has begun their general conference = the gigantic meeting of united methodists from all over the world that occurs only every 4 years. i have been a member of/worked in the umc my whole life. during the 10 day/2 week long meeting, many things are discussed, debated, and decided. 8 years ago i got to attend the conference in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. it was crazy, amazing – in wonderful & in horrible ways. people coming together & people arguing.

the most influential part of the conference was observing all of those who were fighting for equality within the church. to be honest, it overwhelmed me, in a scary way. it was so intense. these people cried. they just wanted to be seen, to be heard, to be able to live their lives just like everyone else, no matter who they loved. i was so touched. but, i couldn’t quite connect with them, i couldn’t understand their perspective. their feelings of discrimination and abandonment.

ha. funny how life goes, huh? now it’s eight years later, and i know exactly what they were feeling. back then i had no idea i’d fall in love with, much less marry, a woman and at the same time feel so confident in my sense of calling to be ordained. back then, i was married to a man, working in a church, studying to be a minister, but not sure if i wanted to be ordained or not. but, my journey these past 8 years has cleared up everything (though it has been a crazy, long, tough, amazing journey). i am amazingly happily married, to a woman; and i feel so strongly, so assured in my calling to be ordained in the umc. i know who i am.

but, there’s one problem though. according to the umc, i can’t be both happily married to a woman & an ordained pastor. the umc does not recognize who i am.

somehow, even though i was once married to a man, completed all of my seminary studies, was on track to be ordained (only a few months left), and worked in a church for 7 years, the minute that i spoke the words that i was now married to a woman, all of my gifts/talents disappeared, and my calling seemed to become irrelevant to the umc. all of the sudden, though i am exactly the same person, i was rendered unfit to be ordained. because of who i love. this decision is based on who i LOVE. the loving part is wrong, but how is loving someone wrong? and when i met lina, did all of my gifts/talents and qualifications which i had (and which were affirmed by others) just disappear?  did they?!

i’m angry. i’m pissed. i’m hurt. i’m confused. and i now understand those masses of people from general conference 8 years ago… their pleas and cries to be heard, to be treated fairly. i have not changed. i am still me. i’m just in love. and in a healthy marriage. and, what, that makes me unfit to complete my ordination process according to some freaking paragraph in the UM Book of Disciple (rule book)?!

ok. breathe. i’m sorry for that. it’s just that this is who i am. and every time i truly think of it, i can’t help but well up with tears. i am called to be ordained, in a church that is flawed (just like all of us), but that i love anyway. i just want to be recognized by the umc for who i am. of course i can work outside of the umc (which i am doing now, sort of.), but i know my calling. i know my soul.

anyway, for the next 10ish days methodists from all over the world are gathering to worship, talk, discuss, plan, and decide things that will then become the way we run the umc for the next 4 years. of course, there will be discussions & arguments regarding equality – marriage for all people and ordination of all people. i am praying so hard that the umc votes to include, rather than exclude. i am hoping that there will be a change, that the umc will no longer refuse to ordain people because they love the “wrong people”.

so, i’m glued to blogs & my twitter feed to find out what’s being said & decided. in florida & in north carolina.

and i’m so emotional. big stuff is gonna be decided over the next 2 weeks. it could affect me greatly. but, more than just me, i am thinking about all people. in all situations, i believe that we should always seek to bring more equality, love, acceptance, respect, and justice into this world. we should not just keep the status quo, and we most definitely should not decide to discriminate even more. no matter what, though, i’ll never give up. change is gonna come.

can you, will you, please think thoughts of reconciliation, justice, and equality with me? thanks for reading & for listening, dear blog friends. it means so much to me.

peace, love, understanding, and rainbows.

do your thing. be you.

good tuesday morning, everyone! as i get back down to business (after some hours off yesterday), i wanted to share with you a quote that i stumbled upon. i love it. it speaks truth. and for all of us out there who have asked, and continue to ask, the burning question in our hearts, “what am i here for? what should i be doing? how should i spend my life”, this quote gives one great answer, i believe. it’s about listening to our souls. giving ourselves space to feel those things, crazy as they are, that make our soul sing, that fill us with a sense of peace & purpose, that are our passion.

i am so proud of the family from which i come. i have a cousin who is unbelievably creative and has a degree in art (not sure exactly what the precise title is). she left her stable, secure job in order to go back to school to study hair design. her passion. she’s living her dream, with her adorable, wonderful little family at the beach, and making the world a better place by living life true to herself. my brother (who can do, and does everything) and his wife (a potter) are dream chasers too. they both refuse to be satisfied with the status quo. instead, they make their own paths to ensure that their dreams of how life should be lived (simply, with good people, good food & drink, in harmony with nature, and surrounded by beauty & creativity) come true. currently they are living in the mountains of north carolina, asheville to be exact. the funky, artsy, eclectic, green city where my heart lives. my other two younger cousins are studying right now, both on their own journey to discover who they are. but, if they follow their cousins (my brother & his wife, my cousin studying hair design, and me) they will discover that they will be discovering who they are throughout their entire lives. of course my amazing wife belongs right here with us, too. she is another creative soul, simply bursting with the desire to put all of that creativity to use and, together, we are committed to living life from our soul, instead of simply existing. (not always an easy thing to do, but something we will never give up on). but, isn’t that what the journey of life is all about? discovery and commitment to our dreams?

yeah. we’re a funky, little family. and a little bit spread out over the world, but connected by our desire to live true to ourselves, no matter where the journey takes us or how crazy we may seem to the rest of the world. at least we have each other. ♥

in the end, i suppose it isn’t so much about what you do. rather it’s about who you are. right?

monday afternoon. each of us doing our thing….  singing, writing, gazing.

“your work is to discover your work

& then with all your heart give yourself to it.”

~ buddha

my dear readers, live life from your soul. be crazy. take risks. be who you were created to be. and enjoy whatever moments come your way today.

sending you love & peace.

a long walk with my love.

woke up late this morning and was greeted by this bright sunshine outside my window. finally!!! lina and i are both off today, and since it wasn’t cold out today (only chilly), we decided a nice, long walk around the river would be perfect. we grabbed out cameras/phones and headed out, hand in hand, to enjoy a few hours in the fresh air, soaking up the beauty of spring, which is just about to burst into full bloom. i’m giving it a week. it was a gorgeous day and the best way to spend an afternoon together.

later on in the afternoon, the sun disappeared behind the clouds and rain began falling. but we went home, sipped coffee, and did some research for our upcoming trip to paris (!). all in all, a pretty wonderful afternoon together and a great way to spend most of a monday. hope you’ve had a good start to your week!

wishing you sunshine & peace.