ending july on a good note.

it’s the end of july and another month of photos are done! and yes, i’m up for another challenge tomorrow. but first, here are the last three pics for this month:




hope your tuesday night is beautiful! mine’s been filled with tacos, a girl’s night of music, and now a showing of “rent”!!

see ya in august! peace.

the hardest words.

here is the next part of my memoir, “from death to peace”…

Luggage in my hands, butterflies in my stomach, and my heart racing, I slowly walked up the stairs onto our tiny front porch, grabbed the shiny gold door knob, and pushed the door open into our home.

“We gotta talk”, I said, on that hot mid-July day, perhaps even before I had even dropped my bags.

Seeing my lovely, bright, open-floor plan home nestled in the mountains of North Carolina should have made me feel peaceful, comfortable, and happy; but I was terrified, insecure, and determined. Seeing my husband for the first time in 5 weeks should have been a moment of joyous reunion, but it wasn’t. Instead I knew what I was facing. I knew what I had to say.

I had spent the last five weeks in Europe, working and reconnecting. I traipsed all over northern Europe as a leader for 5 amazing college-age students who embarked on a pilgrimage through Scandinavia and 2 Baltic countries, visiting Methodist churches and exploring different cultures. The Caravan, an exchange between Methodist congregations in Western North Carolina and Scandinavia/Baltic Countries, as it has been called for the past fifty-seven years, exists to provide a cultural and relational exchange between brothers and sisters who otherwise would never meet. It is an opportunity to realize that we are all family, and that although we live in different places and have different customs, our hearts are the same. The Caravan is also an intense pilgrimage, which has a tendency to leave such an impression that one’s life is changed. Countless tales exist of pilgrims returning home transformed. All this to say, that these 5 weeks were not only transformative for the youth I was leading, but for me as well.

The trip to Europe inspired me and reminded me of dreams, goals, and callings I had 12 years earlier when I was one of those youth on my own Caravan journey. The trip was a culmination of many years, thoughts, feelings, and fears I had been pondering for a while. And the trip came precisely when I needed it.

Let me back up.


It was mid-May, two months earlier, and I walked down the hall at the church where I worked. Nathan was sitting in his office, cup of coffee in hand, when I walked in and helped myself to the coffee pot which sat behind Nathan’s desk. We were like that. Invading each others’ space, teasing each other endlessly, laughing hysterically, and joking constantly. Completely comfortable together. On rare occasions we were serious and intense. This was one of those occasions.

I sat down across from Nathan, holding my coffee cup and sipping on probably 4th cup of the morning. Nathan did the same. We chatted and caught up with each other. I was gone three days out of every week because I was in seminary, so we spent many mornings chatting about professional and personal things. Yes, I worked full-time and studied full-time. It was a crazy balance, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Even though it was Monday and we had worked together the day before, it must have been one of those times where I needed to vent. We don’t get much chatting done on Sundays. So I needed to spill my guts.

I began recounting (again) for Nathan the ways I was currently frustrated with my marriage… the lack of communication, the time spent apart, and so much more. Nothing had been the same after one sultry July morning in 2002 when my husband confessed that he had been unfaithful. We stayed married and did our best to make things work, but lately (as in perhaps, years, when I look back now), things had been feeling very disconnected. Unexpectedly, Nathan stopped me in the middle of my griping session and basically ripped into me. It was time for me to make a decision, he said. He was tired of listening to me complain about things, tired of hearing about my roller coaster ride of emotions, tired of watching me suffer internally, and tired of me not doing anything to make anything better. He fiercely challenged me to be honest with myself, to look at my current situation, and to stop putting all my hopes my “one day it will be better”mantra . Today was the day I was going to do something. If I wanted to live the life I wanted, I needed to stop bitching and start accepting (not his words exactly, but you get the idea). With firmness in his voice, he suggested for me to contact a counselor and to confront Jake with all of my feelings and frustrations. I needed to stop venting my frustrations at other people, and start being honest with myself and with Jake.

I was shocked. Hurt. Terrified. Stunned.

Natham scribbled down the name of a counselor/therapist and challenged me to call her. Right then. Looking like a deer caught in headlights, mouth gaping wide open, I shuffled out of Nathan’s office and down the hall to mine as if I was on auto-pilot. Somewhere deep inside I must have known that it was time to take action. A few minutes later I walked back down to Nathan and reported that I had an appointment in a few days. I actually felt a bit of relief. Just taking that step to make the call released some of my anxiety. The moments building up to something unknown are always the scariest, you know. Yes, I was pleased with myself… even a bit proud.

Then my bubble burst. Nathan reminded me that now I needed to go home and tell Jake about the appointment with the marriage counselor. Shit.

Later on that Monday in May, I sat down on my sofa, Jake in the chair nearby. My palms were sweating, I could hardly breathe, and I wasn’t sure that if I opened my mouth to speak, anything would come out. What was I so afraid of? Jake getting angry? No, I think I was most afraid of the fact that nothing would be the same as soon as I spoke the next words which would come out of my mouth…

“Jake, something is not right in our marriage. It just doesn’t feel ok, and I’ve contacted a marriage counselor so that hopefully we can figure out what’s wrong and begin to fix it.”


“There’s nothing wrong with us. I don’t think we need a counselor.” He was shocked. My words came out of the blue. I know it sounds drastic that I even contacted a counselor before talking with Jake, but I needed to do it right then… or it would have never been done.

“Perhaps you don’t think something is wrong, but I do. And if one of us in this marriage thinks something is wrong, then something is wrong. Will you go to the marriage counselor with me, Jake?”

“No. I told you before that I don’t like counselor’s, so I’m not going to go. I don’t think there is anything wrong.”

Panic. Anger. Fear. This is not going how I planned. He’s refusing. What do I do?

“Well, I have an appointment already made and I’m going to go. I would love it if you would come too. Please. Just to talk some. Think about it.”

End of conversation.

A few days later I went to that appointment and I continued to go weekly for the next few weeks, before I left for 10 days in Greece (an educational trip). I had another appointment or two in between my Greece trip and my trip to Scandinavia. I knew that I would be going back again and again, even after I returned from all of my trips that summer. Turns out, I met with Mary throughout the whole next year.

But I always went alone.


I dropped my bags, hugged Jake briefly, and could feel the tension. It was thicker than the humid air surrounding us on that summer day. We went through all the rituals, “How was your trip?” “Good, how was your time here?” “Good. I got a new tattoo.” “Oh.”

All the while we could feel it. I am certain that Jake felt it too. Something big was about to happen. Palms sweaty again, breath almost gone, hands shaking. Standing in our office, I said it:

“I think we need to get a divorce. This isn’t working.”

There is no need to go into all the reasons why I knew that we needed to separate and go our own ways, but I knew it… from deep within my soul. While I was terrified beyond belief, there was a sense of peace swirling around inside me, like some beautiful, warm glowing light. We had tried. We had given up. We tried again. And then we created our own lives, even as we were still married. There were good times, great times, and good memories. But, there was hell too. Those are all stories for another day. That is not the story I am telling here.

 A few minutes or hour later, I have no idea exactly because time stood still in those moments, Jake left the house. And just like that, our 9 year marriage was over.

* names have been changed for privacy

sometimes it’s just good to say hey.

good evening, people around the world. just a little post about nothing. it felt weird to let the day end without checking in to say hey. so, hey! hope you’ve had a good weekend & are enjoying a cozy sunday wherever you find yourself.  i can’t decide whether my weekend has been busy or not. hehe. there has been lots of time with my love, which feels great. a few tough moments, but that’s life, ain’t it? and a lot of olympic games watching every now & then. some family time – on the phone and in person, plus some much needed moments of quiet every day. i’m thinking i wanna to do some serious yoga tomorrow, loosen up my spine and open up my chakras.  other than that, i’ve got housewife duties on tap: laundry booked for the afternoon. and who knows what else? but, i’m still on vacation for 2 more weeks, so there is no need to plan too much. gotta love that feeling.

so, how has your weekend been? got any plans for next week?!


time is flying by.

yep. it’s been a big week in the eriksson-mcguire household. luckily i have the photo a day challenge to make sure i have a memory from each day. hehe. enough chit-chat.

drumroll, please….

relaxing at home on a sunday afternoon. finding some time to rest is so important.

this is not day 24. i didn’t skip day 23, i just got a head of myself & screwed up some numbers for a few days. hehe. here’s my monday- morning-at-the-breakfast-table reflection in the mirror.

and this is not day 25, but day 24. i passed a random person on my way to the market who seems to be as attached to his phone as i am to mine.

now, here we go. the real day 25. my materialistic heart beats for all my apple products.

the sun streaming in my bedroom windows thursday morning. it turned out to be a true summer day.

on the road and out & about in norrköping friday afternoon. i think my city is beautiful.

some new cups that i’m totally in love with. the first is one that lina & i have been wanting for a while, thinking they only existed in the states. but, we found some here! mason jars as drinking glasses. a funky & different style for sweden. the second cup is a mug that i got from lina’s parents as a congratulations for being a permanent resident of sweden this week. so cool & unique. perfect for coffee, of course.

well, friends, there are only 3 days left in july. and then, we get into the dog days of summer of august: for some of you, the heat builds. for those of us up north, we wait to see how it will be. but, for all of us it is a bit of a transition month. school starts again. work begins again. and the days creep toward the changing of the season. but before i get ahead of myself, august still brings us some lazy days, some more time to enjoy the sunshine & the warmth. and of course, the august photo challenge.

if you want to follow me on instagram and see my pics on a daily basis, i’m lizslens. otherwise, check back here in a few days to see the last 3 pics of july and to get the august challenges. perhaps you’ll want to join in?!

happy saturday! enjoy some olympic moments, if that’s your thing. me, i’m gonna have a little cookout, check out some olympics, and then cozy up with my love tonight with a movie in bed.

peace around the world.

turning the page & beginning again.

things are changing in my life. it’s been a really big week. and i’m/we’re beginning a new chapter in our life together. a longer post coming later… but for now:

[spotify id=”spotify:track:0nbOXVxcq4wSPamBPxAKGu” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Birds flyin’ high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
yeah, its a new dawn its a new day its a new life for me ooooooooh

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel

River runnin’ free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me
And I’m feelin good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what i mean dont you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleepin’ peace when day is done that’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world and a bold world for me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the crime you know how I feel
Your freedom is mine, and I know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for me

music, love, new life, & peace.

how one word made all the difference in my little world.

well, i’m close to finishing 2 of my 4 weeks of vacation this summer. i haven’t been anywhere, but that feels ok. in fact, it feels necessary and important. of course there is the pressure to go somewhere. but it’s self-induced. the pressure to be like everyone else, scurrying off here or there on some vacation to some place in sweden or to another exotic country. well, that’s just not in the cards this summer for me. and ya know what? i’m totally ok with it. i’ve got other things on my mind…

like this one word that i’ve had floating around in my head for the past week: rest. i read something sunday about jesus taking his disciples with him one day on boat, seeking a solitary place so they could have some rest. a retreat. vacation. time to just be. of course, the crowd followed them because jesus was like a 1st century rock star. and while i can imagine that jesus was desperately seeking some alone time, listening to his soul telling him that it was time to recharge his batteries, he did not turn the crowd away. he gladly welcomed the crowd and all of their needs and desires. even though he’d planned to rest. something i would not have done. i would have sneakily found a way to “lose the crowd”, retreating into my apartment and refusing to make plans with anyone. or, if i couldn’t lose them, i’d spend all my time complaining that i’d rather just be alone. but that’s why he’s jesus. and i’m me.

but that got me to wondering… why? why am i so selfish with my alone time? and i immediately knew the answer to my own question: perhaps it’s because i’m not spending time alone on a regular basis, and better yet, when i have alone time, i’m not maximizing it.

jesus went away to be alone quite often, pulling away to go deep within himself. perhaps since he did it quite often, his soul was fed, and he was able to continue to serve others because he never let himself get drained. he never gave and gave and gave, without allowing himself time to reflect and just be. and so, his soul overflowed.

perhaps i’m so stingy with my alone time because when i have it, i do not necessarily use it productively: i do not fill it with things that fill my soul… journaling, doing yoga, meditating, dancing, photography, long walks, true quality time with my love & friends. to be brutally honest, more often that not, i get stuck on the internet, or with a movie. i’m not filling my soul properly, and so i’m not really ready to share myself because i always feel squeezed dry. i’m lazy with my soul time. i realize now that i can have all the alone time in the world, and it won’t matter unless i seek to be inspired rather than entertained.

i have forgotten what it means to be alone; and yet, i am this person, this nomad, longing for moments of solitude.

there are a group of people in life that intrigue me. they inspire me. they are people who practice a contemplative life. throughout history they have been called desert mothers & fathers. and while most people think that the desert monks and ammas (desert mothers) were only around during one certain time period in life, i beg to differ. i also believe that there are plenty living in our midst today. i have known a few women whom i call my “amma” (a word that means mother in many languages). these women have been contemplative, modern-day mystics guiding me, inspiring me, and journeying with me in life. people like elaine, linda, dania.

and then there are the mystics and desert mothers/fathers of history. people like julian of norwich, gregory of nyssa, john the baptist, athanasius, catherine of siena, thomas merton. all of these people (including the ones that have been in my life) live life a little differently that everyone else. they live life from deep within their soul… spending much time alone, relishing quietness & stillness, praying, meditating, thinking, writing, educating, counseling. however, none of these people lived, or live, a secluded life. they are members of their community, balancing their desire and dedication to nurturing their inner lives, as well as living out their love in the midst of the community in which they reside.

just like jesus did.

i realize that i am writing from a christian perspective, but that is part of my foundation/background. just because i am speaking from this perspective does not mean that i do not include great teachers, theologians, and spiritual guides from other religions, too, in my circle of inspirational mystics. people like buddha, rumi, ghandi, demeter & persephone, isis…

now back to my word: rest

the jewish community has a word that i love… shabbos. it is the word for shabbat or sabbath. most of us know what a sabbath is. the sabbath, or shabbat, is the day of rest for jews and christians. many people think of it as a day of prayer because jews & christians visit synagogues and churches on those days. but, the yiddish (jewish word) shabbos teaches me that it’s deeper than just one day of rest or prayer…

it is ceasing to create & withdrawing into our own essence. in other words, just being. exactly who we are. living from our soul for one day. doing those things which fill our soul, make our soul dance. it is breathing freely, knowing that just being alive is what life is all about, soaking in the moments, living one day with wild abandon, returning to the essence of who we are.

finding this word, shabbos, has meant a great deal to me this week as i spend my vacation days seeking rest & rejuvenation and trying to find a way to redefine how i rest, how i reconnect with this community of contemplative beings, to which i feel drawn.

when i was studying for my master’s degree, to become a minister (pastor), my friends & i had a joke. ok. they had a joke about me, and i played along because, in a sense, they were right. they teased me that because i was the contemplative one, the one always seeking some quiet place during the day, talking a lot about being rather than doing… that my life was all about me. that looking inward, drawing into myself, spending time in silence, finding signs of the Divine everywhere… was focusing too much on me. instead perhaps i should have been waking up and giving away every single second of my life to everyone else. at least once a day someone jokingly said, “…because it is all about you, liz”. i can’t say anything about other people, but i can say that, during this time, i had deep inner peace – even in the midst of turmoil.

those of us who crave some solitude, who love to read, reflect, ponder, write, draw, create, and generally have a calm, quiet, sometimes loner of a life, do that because we are drawing within ourselves. not to be egotistical, but to connect with ourselves, to connect with our souls, to connect with the divine spark, the image of God that we believe is in each one of us. and we believe that this world would be a better place if we all just took a little time to just be.

going inward does not make one more egocentric, it makes one more grounded. and being more grounded means that one can be filled, and then one can overflow, and begin share to one’s self with the world, to make a difference. doing things for the sake of doing things, or out of sheer “duty” is exhausting and not fun. seeking to be alone and then using that time for mindless internet surfing or sitting on the couch is also, in the end, exhausting and not fun.

but to truly be alone, to truly have a day of sabbath, to truly go within one’s self, and to truly follow one’s bliss will not only make a difference in your own life, but will most likely affect, change, and inspire those around you.

so, i’ve got a little more that 2 weeks left of my vacation. how do you think i’m gonna spend my time? it sure ain’t gonna be in front of a tv or randomly surfing the net. it will be filled with things that fill my soul and some intense quiet time on a daily basis.

basically, i’m just gonna be. and live life.

now i know why this word, rest, has been on my mind for a while…it’s about time that i reclaim my contemplative roots.


wordless wednesday: vacation mode.


summer lovin’ & peace.

ps. what do you think of the slideshow thingy? i’m not sure if i’m a fan or not, but i thought i’d give it a whirl. change things up a little, ya know?.



tonight’s bedtime story.

finish each day and be done with it. you have done what you could. some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. tomorrow is a new day. you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. ~ ralph waldo emerson

goodnight, from my little corner of the world.


immigration said yes!

guess what i got?!

today my PERMANENT residence card came in the mail… the swedish immigration offices have given me permission to stay! i am officially a resident of sweden!

so, tonight, my love and i went out for very short celebration at a cozy restaurant in our neighborhood…

it really is a big day for us. and it feels amazing to know that i am settled, accepted, and have the rights to be here… permanently. i am so thankful that sweden allows me to stay, to live, to be with my love here. too bad my home country (USA, i mean you.) doesn’t have the same kind of laws, where everyone is treated equally. here, it didn’t matter at all what gender lina & i are. what mattered is that we are committed to loving each other, and have built a life here together.

it’s crazy to get to stay! or, at least until lina & i dream up another adventure… mouwahahaha. in the meantime, i feel so blessed,thankful, and overwhelmed at the fact that i truly have 2 homes. and to share life with my love, to know without a doubt that we can be together, that mean everything to me.

so, tonight, i lay my head on my pillow as one who is not a tourist, not a person with limited permission to be here; but as a wife as one who has the right to sleep here every night. though i have permission to be in this physical place now, no restrictions at all, i am reminded tonight in the midst of feeling so excited and proud, that, wherever my love is, is my home. and now i’m officially, truly, really, legally home.

goodnight, world. peace.

tragedy & beauty.

i could be angry. but i choose to channel that anger into passion. i could live in fear. but i choose to face my fears. i could feel overwhelmed and give up. but i choose to keep on going. i could just turn my head and live in my happy, little bubble. but i choose to be aware. i could focus on the evil, the violence, the pain. but i choose to focus on healing, reconciliation, and peace. i could pretend it didn’t happen. but i choose to acknowledge the pain and heal from it. i could stuff all my emotions down inside me. but i choose to find a way to talk about it. i could forget that it ever happened. but i choose to remember. i could hold a grudge and seek someone or some system to blame. but i choose to be a part of the solution, to educate, to move forward.

i could think that it won’t happen to me. but one never knows…

today marks the one year anniversary of the shootings at the youth camp and bombing in olso, norway where 77 people lost their lives. i remember the day last year, hearing the news of this act of terror, listening to the details unfold hour by hour. and then, the days that followed… hearing the stories of the victims, their stories of survival or the stories of their short lives as told by family members and friends.

it crazy to grow up in a time where i mark my life by acts of terror/tragedy (these are the ones that just popped into my head as i was writing).

  • 1986 the challenger space shuttle exploded
  • 1991 racial riots in my high school
  • 1995 oklahoma city bombing
  • 1999 columbine shootings
  • 2001 september 11 terrorist attacks in NYC
  • 2003 war in Iraq
  • 2011 norway massacre
  • 2012 aurora, colorado theater shootings

but, i guess i’m not the only one who can mark their life by tragedies, remembering where i was when this or that happened… my parents have this list, and then countless others to add: viet nam, civil rights protests/violence in the south, assassinations: martin luther king, jr. & president kennedy, the cold war, etc. and then, my grandparents: WWII, WWI, the great depression,etc.

of course, all i am mentioning here is from my tiny american perspective. i am greatly aware of (without knowing all the details & history, i admit) the fact that all of the countries/continents across the world have their own history, in addition to the history that we share. however, i can only speak from my experience, while acknowledging that everyone has their own experiences with tragedy and violence as well. many have much, much more first-hand experience of tragedy and violence than i.

i am painfully aware of the fact that there are horrible acts of terror and violence occurring daily in other parts of the world, of which i do not know the details. still, on a daily basis, details or not, i consciously try to think of all the people i will never meet who are suffering, who are frightened, who face bombs, guns, and abuse on a regular basis. i may not know them personally, but i know that they are my neighbors here in sweden, my neighbors in africa, my neighbors in the states, my neighbors in asia. they are my neighbors all around the world… and so many face the loss their lives or someone they love. yes, violence is everywhere. it touches everyone.

but, hang with me, friends.

the point of this blog post is first, for me to process my thoughts; and second, to remind myself & all of us what is most important. however in order to focus on what is most important, we have to be honest with ourselves. we have to open our eyes, we have to hear the cries, we have to see the pain and suffering, we have to listen to each other. we have to acknowledge what is happening in order to move forward. we have to open our minds and think. i agree, it’s not fun. it’s depressing. and it’s scary. but, i believe that we are in this together. we are not alone, and if we look honestly together at the state of our lives & our world, it  is perhaps not quite as overwhelming.

the thing is… we need each other.

i don’t have answers to solve the problems of war & violence. i don’t know how to stop acts of terror. but, i do know that how i live my life makes a difference. just think, though, if we all thought about how we lived our lives, faced our fears, worked together, sought, as a community, to heal each others’ pain, shared each others’ burdens, listened to each other, and lived life from a place of love instead of fear and exclusion, we could begin to make a big difference together. still, i am only responsible for myself, i know. but maybe part of my responsibility in my life is to talk with others, listen to others, be someone with whom others can process their thoughts and reflect on their own lives.

it’s the whole pebble in a lake theory. what one person does makes a little impact, but it spread out further and further.what if we were all making little impacts?

however, all the tragedies and violence in this world teach us something else too. it’s not just a reminder to try to make a better world, but to look at how beautiful & wonderful the world is already. yes. i said it. even in the midst of all the pain & suffering, there is beauty and joy. perhaps the most important thing that tragedies teach us is to live life! 

to soak up every moment. to greet each day and welcome all the possibilities it holds, to focus on moving forward, to reframe everything in the positive instead of the negative, to see problems as opportunities, to hear the music, to dance, to laugh until your stomach hurts, to enjoy good company & surround yourself with people who make you a better person, to close your eyes and breathe deeply, to face the sunshine, to believe in hope, to spread smiles and give hugs, to take risks and be adventurous, to dream big, to travel the world, to create art, to follow your bliss…

yes, i believe we must remember the victims, we must be aware of what’s happening in the world and in our own lives. we must be honest and face the dark times, because they are real. they are part of life. but, life is so beautiful as well. why not enjoy the beautiful moments when we have them? why not share that beauty with everyone we meet? why not work together to bring more & more beauty into the world?

thursday night, there was another act of violence & terror that occurred in aurora, colorado as people watched the midnight premiere of the newest batman movie. 12 people lost their lives and 59 people were wounded, many critically. *heavy sigh* yes, again. more violence. more death. more pain.

but, more opportunities to begin to talk again about how we can create a better world, without access to guns and bombs. and another opportunity for those of us left, to remember what is most important. to remember that the darkness exists, but the beauty of the world is brighter. as i always say, love wins.

i want to leave you with the words of one of the victims (jessica redfield) in the colorado shooting. no doubt many of you have heard of her on the news already… she survived a random shooting one month ago in canada, only to be killed in the shooting thursday night. chilling. but, her words are beautiful.

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

don’t we owe it to each other, to ourselves, to all victims of violence, to all who are suffering (even ourselves), to jessica… to make beautiful music with our lives, to live every second of every day as a gift?

breathe it all in, friends. love & hope. it’s all around you, even today.