why i’m a north carolina girl.

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in celebration of the news that lina and i have gotten an apartment in asheville (screams of joy & delight here!!! eeeeee!!!), AND in honor of the fact that i’m moving back to my home state to live in said amazing apartment in asheville, AND in shock of the coincidence that i found the following post of 38 signs you are from north carolina on the day after we got our apartment in the 38th year of my life, when i return to the amazing state of northcarolina, i present to you…

why i will always be a north carolina girl no matter where i live and 38 ways you can tell you are a fellow NC-ian!

1. You have very strong feelings about Duke, UNC, and NC State.

You have very strong feelings about Duke, UNC, and NC State.

it doesn’t matter if you went to any of the above schools, you still have an allegiance to one. perhaps an unhealthy one. regardless, nothing fires you up quite like college basketball in north carolina. all three universities within 30 minutes of each other, the rivalry is intense. and it goes back generations in families. my family… Duke and State. most definitely anybody but Carolina. yuck!! but, don’t forget about Wake Forest, a little further down the road.

2. You know Cheerwine is not actually wine but one of the greatest carbonated beverages ever.

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north carolina may be the birthplace of some other sodas, but none of them even come close to the awesomeness of cheerwine. for real.

3. You have gotten into fights about what style of barbecue is better.

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and just so you know the truth…. it’s eastern style bbq which is the best. trust me. especially the bbq at wilber’s in goldsboro. and the hushpuppies… to die for.

4. You know it’s no fluke Asheville has been named Beer City for three consecutive years.

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The craft beer scene is unreal. From the mountains, Highland Brewing, to the foothills, Catawba Valley Brewing, to the piedmont, NoDa Brewing, to the coastal plains, Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, and everything inbetween. If you like beer, North Carolina is where it is at.

5. You know y’all is a perfectly grammatically correct way to refer to a group of people.

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have you read any of my posts before? how many times to i use this… for real. :)

6. You know tea is always better sweetened. and cold.

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my grandma made the absolute best. i think she dumped a whole pound of sugar in the hot water filled with tea bags. it melted & brewed perfectly. then, she poured it in a big ole pitcher, filled it with ice, and put it in the fridge. after a while, time to sip on some tea and sit on the back porch watching birds & squirrels. awesome memories. if y’all come visit us, i’ll make you some sweet tea and we can sip it on our balcony. and you’ll love it. promise.

7. You have a favorite NASCAR driver.

You have a favorite NASCAR driver.

ok. you may not even be a NASCAR fan, but that doesn’t stop you from knowing which driver you want to win the Coca Cola 600 every memorial day weekend. and there is no arguing about the  late, great dale earnhart.

8. You’d happily live off of Bojangles’ biscuits. 

You'd happily live off of Bojangles' biscuits.

or cinnamon twists, or boberry biscuits, or seasoned fries. (right, reynolds family?!) oh yeah. and spicy fried chicken. i mentioned just last night that my parents should eat breakfast at bojangles, when my mom stated she didn’t know where to eat as they drove across the state. i knew they were near an exit with a bojangles. yes, i know where they are all across the state. seriously.

9. You know the proper pronunciation of Appalachian.

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it’s like nails on a chalkboard, y’all. it shouldn’t be this difficult.

think latch and not lay, App-a-LATCH-un and not App-a-LAY-shun.

10. Grits and/or biscuits are staples of any good breakfast.

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deliciously yummy. and truly southern.

11. You still have beef with Ohio.

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no matter what the argument is, wilber & orville wright were the first to fly. and that happened in north carolina. not ohio.

12. You know what it means to have a burger “all the way.”

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chili. slaw. onions. mustard. perfection. right, dad?! dear me, i’m not gonna be a vegetarian anymore when i move back.

13. You know no holiday or big family dinner is complete without greens.

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they must be cooked into oblivion with some sort of pig product. pig juices + collards = orgasmic. not my favorite dish. still, always there. the old folks really liked it. and you too, mom, but you’re not old.

14. You’re a closet “leaf looker”.

You're a closet "leaf looker."

ok. i’m not in the closet about this. i admit it. i’m proud of it. i drive around all fall, with all the tourists, taking pictures of the same views and same places every single year. because it’s just that darn beautiful. you gotta make it to the mountains during the fall.

15. Seeing a Florida license plate drives you into fits of rage.

Seeing a Florida license plate drives you into fits of rage.

this is especially true if you lived in the western part of the state. it is a well-known fact that floridians want to drive on mountain roads, but they’re not skilled at it. not at all.

16. You watched the ACC Basketball Tournament in class.

You watched the ACC Basketball Tournament in class.

the tournament started on a friday, and on that friday, every tv attached to the wall in a classroom was turned to the channel streaming the games. yeah. not much work got done that day. we might not have been able to swing getting time off to watch the tourny, but it didn’t matter because it was streaming in every classroom.

17. You had a snow day…without any snow.

You had a snow day...without any snow.

it didn’t matter if there was snow on the ground or not. if there was a threat of snow, class was canceled. a bit of a contrast from my life here in sweden.

18. You have an appreciation (obsession) of bluegrass.

BluegrassInstruments

there’s nothin’ like the sound of a banjo, or a mandolin, and a fiddle. whether it be The Avett BrothersSteep Canyon Rangers, doc watson… i could go on…

19. You’ve attended a pig pickin’ or two.

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looks gross. sounds gross. but it is an amazing community, family kinda picnic.  and a major southern tradition. organic. tribal. and native. good food. good people. yes, folks. i even had a pig-pickin’ as my rehearsal dinner for my first wedding. classy, maybe not. but, fun and awesome and real. hell yeah.

20. You like to brag about the North Carolina music scene. Cause it’s awesome.

the avett brothers.
the avett brothers.

and rightly so! from Ben Folds to Ryan Adams to James Taylor to Mount Moriah toLittle Brother to Randy Travis to all those bluegrass people to the NC Symphony to  gospel music and so many others, you know north carolina has a very eclectic and amazing music scene.

21. You have friends who have done some cow tipping.

You have friends who have done some cow tipping.

not that i ever did anything like that. really. i didn’t. but small town north carolina doesn’t have much else to do. not that that’s an excuse. and it is terrible and cruel. but, it is what it is. i can only do all i can to help people break this tradition. but, i think i’m alone on that quest.

22. The Lost Colony of eastern NC fascinates you.

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sure, it might have been boring in your fourth-grade history class, but as you got older you realized how it had all the makings of a badass movie. mystery! intrigue!  cryptic notes carved onto trees! possible cannibalism! vampires! it had it all. plus, it was the first english colony in the new world. yep. NC, first again. ohhh… can’t wait to visit the mysterious island again.

23. So does Blackbeard.

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has there been anyone more badass than Blackbeard the Pirate (the inspiration for Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow)? nope! blackbeard (aka Edward Teach) was a feared pirate and a legitimate crazy person. blackbeard wasn’t originally a North Carolinian, but he settled down with his 14th wife (yes, i said 14th!) in bath, nc and died there — and by the way, his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, sunk off the coast of beaufort, where my family is from, so we claim him in all his crazy, bad-assness.

24. You’ve jumped off Jockey’s Ridge. (and i have).

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it looks like the desert. and a giant mountain of never-ending sand. it doesn’t feel like you’re in nc, but it is the largest sand dune on the east coast and is the most visited park in the NC park system. cool, huh? it’s actually in the same area where the wright brothers had their first flight. and it is amazing to jump off the top, fall into the sand, and just keep rolling all the way down. lina, i promise to take you here!!

25. You have a favorite swimmin’ hole. (and i do).

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pick your place. the coast. a creek in the piedmont. or a cold, mountain stream. my favorite spot used to be sliding rock, back when i was a kid, there was no one around. now, the park system has installed bathrooms, parking lots (how on the side of a mtn i don’t know), and there is a line to slide down the rock. so, now i prefer a little hidden place off of highway 215 or in cataloochee valley or in joyce kilmer forest.

26. You know the best time to visit the Grove Park Inn is during gingerbread house time.

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this is crazy. i mean crazy. the talent. the goodies. the luxurious grove park inn. it is a must every single holiday season.

27. You know the importance of preferring dark blue over light blue (or vice versa, if you’re sick).

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and one of the colors is waaaaay more beautiful than the other…

28. There was a plastic jug of moonshine in your freezer or on your back porch or in your barn.

There was a plastic jug of moonshine in your freezer.

and, you know, there’s nothing like drinking out of a mason jar. pure class all the way.

29. You know that Cook Out milkshakes are the best. Ever.

milkshake

and the food? cheap. fast. greasy. tastes like grilled outdoors. deeelicious. 

30. Christmas Town, USA, is the bane of your existence.

Christmas Town, USA, is the bane of your existence.

you’ve never been to McAdenville to see the christmas lights. it’s too big of a production and the thought of it gives you a panic attack. you have, however, been stuck on I-85 in traffic for hours behind people (probably with florida license plates) trying to get in the town to see it. christmas town, USA, is the worst and you don’t care if that makes you a scrooge.

instead, i just put up my own lights display. so there.

31. You were eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts before they got all popular and trendy.

You were eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts before they got all popular and trendy.

been eating these for as long as i can remember. and, when my parents saw that “hot now” sign lit up, it didn’t (doesn’t) matter what time of day or night, we’d be stoppin’.

32. “Wagon Wheel” will never, ever get old.

ahhhh…. the feeling of home. proud. you’re also territorial about it and don’t appreciate non-north carolinians loving it so much. STOP SINGING THIS AT KARAOKE, GIRL FROM CALIFORNIA.

33. The sight of this brings you pure joy.

The sight of this brings you pure joy.

NBA basketball in NC… yeah!

34. And the sight of this reduces you to tears.

Carolina Panthers v New York Giants

NFL football in NC. not. so. great. panthers, you just ain’t got it.

35. You had no idea hockey was an actual sport until this happened.

You had no idea hockey was an actual sport until this happened.

hockey? in north carolina? and we won it all?

36. Speaking of hurricanes, you’ve lived through one, or 2, or 3.

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i can’t count the number of hurricanes i’ve experienced. at the coast. in the piedmont. in the mountains. the whole state is just sticking out into the atlantic waiting to be hit. but, being storm chasers and storm shoppers runs in my family. we know how to make it through a storm. and we love doing it. (luckily, we have never suffered any totally destructive damage).

37. You’ve figured out some creative ways to get around blue laws (when you can & cannot buy alcohol) and the lack of happy hour in the state.

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no problem. we’ll make our own.

38. And even when the state disappoints you, you still ardently defend it.

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in may 2012, north carolina passed a marriage amendment which stated that marriage was ONLY between a man and a woman, thereby writing discrimination into it’s state constitution. it’s sick. it’s disappointing. and scary. yet, i still have hope. there are tons of supporters of marriage equality. tons of fighters. and come two months from now, i’m joining the fight. right there on nc soil. marriage equality will come to nc. i believe it.

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but, no matter what, i love nc. it’s home. it’s my history, including my history with my amazing wife. and now, it’s also our future. it is a beautiful, diverse, sometimes backwards, intelligent, natural, artsy, place to live. here’s to you, north carolina!

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yep. i am proud to be a southern, north carolina girl.

* some of the photos and text taken/paraphrased from the buzz feed article. other photos from the internet & pinterest. and the rest of the photos by me!

vårkänslor. the feelings sweeping over sweden.

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so, i know i’ve said this before some time, but the weather is sweden is extreme. when it’s good, it’s amazing. and when it’s bad, it’s awful and depressing. and the weather tends to hang around for a while = it doesn’t fluctuate much from day to day. when it snows, it dumps. when it is gray and chilly, it’s that way until you think you just can’t stand one more day. and when the sun shines, it does so for days. it warms your skin with its intense rays.

right now, we’re in a period of amazing, unbelievable, perfect weather. and we went straight from winter to summer. i must admit, all of this warm sunshine and deep blue skies has affected my mood. you know, we also have the super long daylight hours gong on now. anyway, my mood. it’s off the charts. i have so much energy. i feel so alive. i just wanna soak in every little bit of the amazingness that is around me. i’ve even been more social. and i never, ever want to be inside.

people

today, as i worked in my office, i had the old, creaky windows flung wide open. i could hear the hustle and bustle of city life below me: people laughing, children running, babies crying, bike bells dinging, feet shuffling.

i also had my spring playlist playing as i worked. and i realized that i made a freaking good playlist. hehe. it’s dreamy. organic. happy. sunny. calming. upbeat.

so, i thought i’d pay it forward. i’d love to share my playlist with you. i’d love to share with you the feelings of hope, beauty, peace, and excitement that flutter through me when i hear the music and listen to the lyrics. of course, it may not strike you at all. it may not be your cup of tea. on the other hand, it may inspire you, or some tune may stir something within you. anyway… think of this as me spreading some of the sunny cheer that we are experiencing here in sweden with all of you.

click on the album covers below to access the playlist on spotify. if you don’t have spotify, then leave a comment and i’ll get the list of songs/singers to you, if you’re interested. 

vårkänslor

speaking of sunny swedish cheer… there is a word in swedish that i love… vårkänslor. spring feelings.

or if you’d like a more detailed description: the feelings of extreme happiness, giddy expectation, dizzying euphoria, etc. one gets when it finally appears as though spring is coming. 

in other words: woo0 hooooo! yeeeee haawwww! (spoken like a true american. wink wink).

it is a madness that sweeps the nordic nation every year. and it’s happening now. after surviving the long, dark, seemingly never-ending nights, there are signs of life. literally. it may take mother nature until may to show us, but nature is beginning to wake up. the sun has risen high in the sky again. no more 2 hours of the sun barely peeking over the buildings. little purple flowers are popping up in the grass, which has turned green and is thickening up. and, again, the sun. have i mentioned the sun yet? that glorious bright circle in the sky, sending down hot, bright rays to warm our bare skin. the sunglasses come out. every face is turned upwards toward the sky… literally. every time i go somewhere, i cross the street multiple times just to make sure i am walking in the sun as much as possible. the cafes have built all of their outdoor seating spaces. people are everywhere. the ice cream kiosks have opened. parks are filled. even if the temperature is a little chilly and you need to wrap up in a fleece blanket as you sip your coffee outside, it doesn’t matter. as long as there is sun, there is hope. there is life. the time has arrived….vårkänslor!

in the states we refer to this as spring fever. and i’ve dealt with spring fever my whole life. it’s an intense desire for spring. like cabin fever is an intense desire to get out of the house. but, after living in sweden for three years now, and living through 3 winters, i understand that vårkänslor is a much deeper, even more intense, insane disorder that all of swedish society experiences. it is part of the swedish culture. and it is a beautiful thing.

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today, after i couldn’t stand be cooped up at work any longer, i packed up my stuff, did a few errands, and headed home on foot. i walked slowly. i breathed in the air. felt the breeze. i didn’t even have a jacket on today. it was not chilly at all. i strolled down queen street, smiling, and perhaps even whisteling to myself. seriously. when i reached a crossroads, i felt my vårkänslor inspire me to go by a friend’s restaurant to grab a late afternoon beer. my friend’s wife (another friend, of course) was there and i asked her to join me. it was a little before the restaurant opened, but since her husband (my friend) manages the restaurant, we were given to ok to park ourselves at a table out back, on their porch. in the sunshine. within minutes, two cold beers were delivered to us and we chatted it up for an hour or so. the perfect spontaneous spring afternoon.

river

later on at home, my love asked if i wanted to go & sit by the river. on  day like today, it was a must! so i slipped on my flip flops and we walked the one block to the river, sat down, and basked in the sun. chatting. sitting in silence. just being. what a fabulous way to end the day.

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yep. vårkänslor. i love them.

peace.

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.