31 days for me.

my view from the train.
my view from the train.

i was sitting on the train this evening,  headed back home, staring out the window and listening to music. my love was sitting across from me. i felt calm and at peace. i was simply in the present moment. we were returning after a little 2 day trip, which did not turn out how we had imagined. it was good, nonetheless. but, that’s irrelevant. what fluttered in and out of my mind while the train sped through the swedish countryside was more important.

i checked my instagram account a few times, and i noticed something. there are quite a few people who have joined in my may photo journey challenge: who am i? and by quite a few, i mean a lot. it was amazing to look at the #bllphotoaday hashtag and see the faces of the beautiful women from all over the world who tagged their “selfie” picture for today. like i can’t keep up with those of you here who are participating!  but, let me just say this… i am psyched! what i have heard as feedback so far, is that people are drawn to the theme this month… the journey of self-discovery. i am humbled and so freaking excited!! i truly hope all that join in have a fabulous experience and understand for themselves what this photo a day thing can add to one’s life!

well, as the music continued to play in my ears, and the train went clickity-clack down the track, a song came on that just melted into my soul. it’s one i’ve listened to many times before, but tonight i heard it for the first time…

In the morning on the train
You sit and stare out at the rain
Or bury yourself in your books
Don’t look at no strangers
No, don’t give them any looks

Why you ask yourself, why you’re so afraid
Why you hesitate when someone asks your name
They’ll come too close if you tell them the truth
Who’s to say they want something from you

But you’re just a shell of
Your former you
That stranger in the mirror
Oh, that’s you
Why’d you look so blue?

And the only man you ever loved
You thought was gonna marry you
Died in a car accident when he was only 22
Then you just decided, love wasn’t for you
And every year since then
Has proved it to be true

Now you’re just a shell of
Your former you
That stranger in the mirror
Oh, that’s you
Why’d you look so blue?

Maybe tomorrow you will make a change
Maybe someday soon you will find the strength

Now you’re just a shell of
Your former you
That stranger in the mirror
Oh, that’s you
Why’d you look so blue?

now, this evening i wasn’t feeling blue at all as i listened to the song. but, the lyrics resonated with me because they reminded me of may’s photo journey of self -discovery. i thought about how it is my hope that this journey can be one of looking in the mirror at myself and rediscovering… well, me. perhaps a some  new & some old.

and then i remembered that it was may 1, and i had made a little pact with two blogger friends of mine, to do a 31 day challenge about trying something new. one of the chicks and i said we’d begin may 1. the other one began a few days ago. anyway, i’ve been wondering what the heck i was gonna do for about a week now. i was stuck. big time. until tonight. and then i knew…

for the next 31 days as i get reacquainted with myself in my photo journey, i am also going to make a promise to spend one hour a day doing something just for me. just for my soul. these are very specific kinds of things, like writing, yoga, meditating, reading, having coffee with a friend, going to a museum, or a long walk. and so much more. i usually do these things, but it’s always a little here & there. i have a really hard time stating my opinion and saying what i want to do. so, my 31 day challenge is to take care of myself and do what i want for at least one hour a day. i’ll keep you posted.

you know, i truly believe that it is important that we learn to know who we are, and to take care of our souls. so, take a few moments and just be with yourself. listen to your heart. feel your soul. let your mind wander and dream. don’t forget who you are, and that who you are is simply wonderful!

peace and love.

own your moments.

love life
usa road trip
my love & i on our honeymoon in 2010. we drove cross-country (usa). amazing.

i spent some cozy time with my love this afternoon. during our time together, she played some music on her phone, and pulled out an oldie. well, an oldie for us. a song and an artist that always takes us back to a certain time in our life together. listening to the artist’s voice and her songs today transported me directly back to 2009. i could smell things, see things, feel emotions. we were a fairly new couple, living in asheville, soaking up life like crazy back then.

i decided to listen to more of this artist on my way home, and then i heard it. the. perfect. song. at least the perfect message for me today. i had not thought of this song in a very long time, but when it began, the lyrics and music just washed over me and sunk deep into my soul. and i thought, “yes. exactly. now.”

you see, so much happens in life. so much can change within a day. and there are so many dreams, wishes, hopes, and plans we have. but, we get scared. or stuck. or something. why? what are we afraid of? why do we feel that we must do what everyone expects from us and close off those gut feelings we have? why do we ignore the passion that we feel deep within? why do we say “i can’t” instead of saying “yes!”.

you know, life is not easy. obstacles and difficulties and fears creep into our sunny days and make us want to give up. and then there are the days that we just want to hide under the covers. we wonder what the point is. or if we will ever feel good again. sometimes it just feels really tough and really hard and really lonely. it’s easy for me to get caught in these feelings actually. especially when life isn’t giving me exactly what i had planned, or when i simply feel exhausted and uninspired.

but, the other thing that life is, is unpredictable. and short. hearing the song today, being with my love, thinking about our future and our move and our dreams… all reminded me and confirmed within me to keep grabbing life by the horns, to keep seizing the day, to keep following our dreams, and to soak up every little of second of life that i can. there is no reason for any of us to sit on our asses or hide under the covers, but there is every reason to live life to the fullest. to love life, no matter what comes our way, and to fight for the crazy, breath-taking, amazing life that each one of us deserve!

One of these days you’ll be
under the covers, you’ll be
under the table and you’ll realize.
That all of your days are numbered;
all of them one to one hundred.
All of them millions.
All of them trillions.
So what are you gonna do with them all?
You can not trade them in for more…
No no

Take every moment; you know that you own them.
It’s all you can do, use what’s been given to you.

Give me a reason to
fight the feeling
that there’s nothing here for me.
Cause none of its easy,
I know it wasn’t meant to be.
I know it’s all up to me.
It’s all up to me.
So what am I gonna do with my time?

Oooh

Ill take every moment, I know that I own them.
It’s all up to you to do whatever you choose.
Live like you’re dying and never stop trying.
It’s all you can do, use what’s been given to you.

All of the moments you didn’t notice;
gone in the blink of an eye.
And all of the feelings you couldn’t feel
no matter how you try.
Oh oh

Take every moment; you know that you own them.
It’s all up to you, to do whatever you choose.
Live like you’re dying and never stop trying.
It’s all you can do, use what’s been given to you.

Live like you’re dying and never stop trying.
It’s all up to you, use what’s been given to you.

so here’s what i’m gonna do. i’m gonna write a new bucket list kinda thing… one that i am gonna work on from now until my birthday in september. exactly 5 months from today. and that list full of dreams and goals is gonna be my “39 before 40″. yep, this year i turn 39. so, from my 39th birthday until my 40th birthday, i’m gonna accomplish 39 new, amazing things. in the meantime, i am gonna spend the next four months thinking, dreaming, living, and creating that list..

and to start with, i have a big project planned for may. a new kind of daily challenge. don’t you worry, i am gonna still create a photo challenge, but, i’m gonna take part in a personal 31 day challenge also. i’ve been inspired by my blogging friend laura. and my other blogging friend, holly, will be joining in too. more to come on all of this in a few days. stay tuned…

all of this is all about living my life so that when i’m an old, old lady, i’ll be sitting in my rocking chair, satisfied that i sucked everything i could out of this crazy, wonderful life.

ok, people. let’s do this!

live life. love it. and own your moments! peace.

speaking of peace…

dance

so, i had a little to say this morning about peace and how we try to create a world of peace in the midst of the violence that we find everywhere. and, for me, the only thing i can come up with, as i said earlier, is that i can only make a difference in my life. i cannot make anyone else make the decision to choose peace, acceptance, and love. what i can do, though, is be an example of that to the people i meet. i can educate. and i can provide opportunities for people to meet each other. i truly believe that we are afraid of, we condemn, we accuse, we are willing to fight against those we do not know. as long as we have an “us” and a “them”, we will not have peace. so, what can i do? i can help to break down barriers and walls. i can create environments where people of different races, cultures, countries, socio-economic statuses, religions, sexualities, etc. can come together and meet each other simply as people. and then, when we strip away the prejudices and pre-judgements, we can see the human being standing in front of us as a fellow human being, not an enemy or an unknown scary thing. when we meet each other, then we realize that we have more similarities than not, and that we are connected as humans. when we are willing to be with each other, we will learn that we are more alike one another than we imagined.

warming up

it was a fabulous coincidence that tonight i had planned for my youth group to host a café evening for some refugee teenagers from afghanistan. after everything that has been occuring in the boston area, i thought it was perfect timing that i had a chance to push my teenagers to come face to face with about 20-30 teenage boys from afghanistan who have fled to sweden because they have nothing left, or because they were in danger, in their home land. these guys not only left their home country, they left it alone. they are in sweden without any family. just themselves. and we were gonna show them a good time tonight.

i know that some of my teenagers have been a little nervous about meeting with these guys, if only because not all of them speak swedish, but also because  they are are unknown guys from an unknown culture. and even though we have met with them before, it was still something a little frightening, for everyone involved. understandable.

dance

but, what happened was not frightening at all… it was amazing. after spending the first 20-30 minutes a little bit separated from each other, all the kids began to warm up to each other. someone pulled out their ipad and began to search for music, and after a few minutes, we moved tables, and everyone was up and dancing. so crazy. so much fun. i danced away like crazy as well. we all did. and we laughed. we talked. we met each other simply as people.

as i was telling the guys goodbye, one of them asked if they could call me and invite us to the next muslim celebration they have. they wanted to repay our kindness. i was blown away. afterwards, my kids talked about how much fun it was. and my heart was full.

teen peace warriors
me + my swedish kids + 20 teenage male refugees from afghanistan = one amazing evening. this is how peace is made. (and i dedicate this photo to #watertown and #boston) #GetToKnowEachOther #diversity #dance #laugh #talk #eat #cometogether #peace

you see, peace is possible. and tonight i got to witness peace in the making. what an amazing gift.