the goddess in the sky: learning to love yourself


i just so happened to wake up really early the other day. from my bed, i could tell that was very bright in the living room. and i knew that there was no full moon giving off the cool, white glow that i saw from my bed. so, what was it?

i checked the time and saw that it was about 5:30 am. curiosity got the best of me and i crawled out of bed + stumbled over the the window. this is what i saw:sunrise dawn venus morning

a quarter moon (which looks full in this photo, due to my camera phone). and a bright star. a really, really bright star. it was gorgeous. breathtaking. and being the sky geek that i am, i suspected that it was not a star actually, but a planet. venus, i thought.

i gazed a bit longer and then quickly searched an astronomy website to see about early morning happenings in october. my suspicion was confirmed. it was the beautiful venus shining her light in the predawn sky.
sunrise dawn venus moon

venus, as many of us know, is named after the roman goddess by the same name. she’s the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, balance, equality. the planet venus is often known as earth’s twin. she’s the closest planet to earth, which is why she shines so brightly in the autumn sky. so, perhaps, if we dream and ponder a bit, we can feel that connection between the planet venus and ourselves.

what i found myself thinking about on this early dawn morning, as the sky brightened and a new day was beginning, was what venus could teach me.

with the planet venus glowing so very brightly, i felt as if she was reminding me  to do exactly the same thing. to glow. to let my light shine. to not only love those in my life as deeply as i can, but to also remember to love myself, letting my life be as bright and beautiful and inspiring as our sister planet.
dawn sunrise venus

as i often do, i found inspiration up in the heavens on this morning. i spent those dark, quiet moments just before sunrise standing alone at my window. and i felt empowered. empowered to live the life that i am called to. and to share with each of you the beauty of believing in ourselves.

venus, way up there in space, illuminates it all for us. even when we feel the most alone, the most challenged, the most confused, there is still love. there is always love. so, the best thing that we can do is to dig deep + discover that love within ourselves. to embrace our own lives and to love one another. no matter what we face, we have everything that we need. and, if no one understands the path that we are on, or the path that we have chosen, well then, too damn bad for them. our calling in life is to listen to and love ourselves + to embrace our inner goddess (or god). i believe that so very deeply.

and venus reminded me of just that.

morning sky venus quote

if you happen to wake up early over the next few days, look to the east. venus will be there shining brightly for you too.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

from here on out: moving forward after intense changes

whoa. september was a doozy. now that we are on our second day in october, i feel that i have the tiniest of perspectives of what really went down during the transitional month that just ended.

as a collective community, we all experienced the changing of the season with the equinoxes. we also all experienced that super full harvest blood moon. and even if we didn’t see it, and aren’t aware of it, the effects of it are real.


for me, personally, september was a huge month of changes. all for the good – ultimately. but, none of them easy. even the exciting ones brought with them a bit of anxiety + a need to dig deep and find courage. anytime something new happens, i always must stop and take a deep breath. i may seem to sail through changes + transitions, but i need a moment to gather my thoughts and prepare myself to take any leap of faith. i am often scared. it’s just that i refuse to let my fear and anxiety keep me from living life to the fullest.

in september, these are the things that weren’t easy, but have been so fulfilling. they are all huge life-changing things, actually:

  1. i began my sat nam rasayan training (a form of kundalini yoga healing meditation).
  2. i got a job! had three intense weeks of training, and worked my first shift by myself yesterday!
  3. my love went from working full time to being in treatment for her eating disorder full time. Read more about her journey on her blog –> here.
  4. i turned 41!
  5. autumn came: my favorite season of the year.

it’s a wonder i am not spinning out of control when i look back on the list. that’s a lot of big stuff crammed into 30 days. but, somehow, through grace, i was able to stay grounded, present, and focused on the present moment. i knew that the changes were coming, and all i could do was allow and accept and push on. because i knew that each and every change would lead me to a new, more wonderful, more enlightened, more inspired place.

not that there weren’t freak out moments too. oh, there were. there are. and there will be.

coffee morning sofabut, that’s what has happened. and now, it’s time to move onwards. i admit that it’s good to reflect for a minute (like i did here). to draw the connections and gain some perspective, but the most important thing is to embrace right now. and to move forward.

and, just as i was thinking about that, i received this message from the universe in my inbox:

The 20th century’s most influential artist may have been Pablo Picasso. He created thousands of paintings, and was still churning them out when he was 91 years old. A journalist asked him which one was his favorite. “The next one,” he said. I suggest you adopt a similar attitude in the coming weeks, Libra. What you did in the past is irrelevant. You should neither depend on nor be weighed down by anything that has come before. For now, all that matters are the accomplishments and adventures that lie ahead of you.

so, from here on out, all that i need to focus on is what is happening right now + what lies ahead.

now, that doesn’t mean that i sit and daydream about the future, wishing that i was there instead of here. what it does mean, however, is that i have entered a new phase in my life. all of what i have been working on for so long, since my divorce 8 years ago, is over.

the changes that i have made on the inside are now ready to be manifested on the outside.

i am embarking a new part of my journey. i have been writing about feeling that it was time for me to move on to a more outward focused life, but right now, after september + all of its changes, i am certain that i am in the dark period just before rebirth. and that feels amazing.

so, now that i am in the midst of a great shift in my life, i wanted to share with you all ways that i have learned how to live in the present moment. all that i hav been working on, on the inside. how to listen to my soul. how to live an intentional, authentic life. how to find a sense of inner peace.

and i am going to do just that. in fact, i am going to create a whole business and website around that. not a new website, just an upgrade to this one.

and this is going to be a long process. so, there will not be a new post about it all tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. i will be creating and growing and manifesting for as long as it takes.

however, i am beginning today. my first step onward takes place right now.

today i am heading out of town for the weekend. i am beginning a year-long life coach training course. and this is a huge dream come true for me. like, huge. i have dreamed about it since i was in seminary 10 years ago.

once a month, for 6 months throughout the year, i will be meeting to study for an international certification as a spiritual life coach. a spiritual guide. a mentor. what have you. and today, that journey begins. this is my first weekend of training.

i am excited. terrified. overwhelmed. relieved. i’m gonna miss my love like crazy. and oh so much more.

so, dear readers, i wish you a beautiful, inspiring weekend. do your best, as i will, to live in the present moment. to soak up whatever is around you and all that it has to offer you and teach you.

things have changed. for all of us. let’s grab on to the adventures and possibilities and life that lies ahead of us. happy weekend, lovelies.

 onwards + upwards!

i’ve got a feeling you’re gonna want to stay up late for this

there are some things that make me who i am that i get from my dad.

my love of photography + documenting life. my love of driving, especially long distances. go ahead: challenge us. 8 hours? 10 hours? we are totally up for it. my weather obsession. there’s a tornado warning? oh, yeah. we will go and stand at the door to look out. a hurricane coming? we will be glued to the tv for the insane entire 24 hour coverage. a thunderstorm? let’s stand on the porch and take photos! my love for airplanes + boats. my love for historical places (my mom loves this too!).

and my love for space. or the night sky. or the sky in general (see weather, photography, airplanes, etc. above).

photo by john rauda

photo by john rauda

as a kid, whenever something crazy was gonna happen in the night sky, my dad knew about it. now, we weren’t those people who packed it all up and went way out into the middle of nowhere to sky watch. but, we did stay up and go outside and enjoy it from our little suburban american backyard.

my family and i never talked about how these celestial events affected us here on earth, more than their affect on the tides in the ocean. but, somehow, through my experience of growing up + learning to love nature and the universe, i have come to realize that what my parents taught me, without even saying a word, was the beauty of the interconnectedness of everything. of all people, all places, all plants + animals, and all of the stars out there in the vast, endless night sky.

without saying a word, i hold my parents responsible for creating a life for me where exploration was natural. and where the natural was sacred. and because it was sacred, everything in us, everything in the universe, everything was connected to each other. creating a beautiful coexistence.

and so, today, when something happens way out there… i know that it happens in here (points to her soul) as well.

so, in honor of my dad always keeping me abreast of the night sky goings on, i am here to pass on some info to you: tonight, my friends, something crazy is gonna happen. and i’m pretty sure that you’re gonna wanna stay up and experience it.

tonight, as the moon rises in the sky. new opportunities, new beginnings arise in us as well.

moon rising

here’s what’s (scientifically) happening tonight:

it’s a powerful night to watch the sky.

tonight’s moon is the harvest moon, the full moon closest to the fall/autumn equinox. remember, in the northern hemisphere we changed seasons just a few days ago, passing from the light + warmth of summer in to the cozy, internally-focused darkness of autumn. this signifies the cycle of life, that changes are inevitable, death cannot be escaped. and yet, everything must die, in order to live again, to be born anew. could it be the same for us too?

tonight we will also experience a total lunar eclipse of the moon. this hasn’t happened since 1982 and won’t happen again until 2033. it is a very rare event. making it very special. isn’t that how it always is, with us, though? when something doesn’t occur often, we regard it with more honor and see it as something special and unique. we give those things that are rare more value + worth. so, it is with the lunar eclipse tonight. it is a valuable, worthy, special, moment for us to experience. perhaps we want to slow down just a little bit to soak it all in.

because of this type of rare eclipse, the moon is also known as a blood moon. tonight, the earth orbits between the sun and the moon, blocking out the light from the sun, which makes the moon “shine” during regular nights. tonight, as the earth passes through, the sun, earth, and moon will be in perfect, complete alignment. how freaking crazy is that?! there’s gotta be some symbolism in that, right? perfect alignment.

and, on top of the earth being in the middle, blocking the light that lights up the moon, as the earth passes by, the moon will appear red. hence the name “blood moon”. the little bit of light that seeps through before and after everything is perfectly lined up, will make the moon will appear red.

as if all of this were not enough, tonight’s moon is also known as a super moon. this means that the moon is closer to the earth than it usually is. it’s only about 8% closer, but it is enough to make it appear that the moon is huge in the night sky.

for me, all of this makes me just giddy with excitement.

and, while we can simply observe and look at the night sky’s happenings tonight and be inspired by the pure scientific and natural phenomena of it all, i am who i am. and i need to go deeper. it goes back to all of that i was talking about above in the beginning of this post. this interconnectedness that i feel. i need to ponder what we can learn from the heavens above.

photo by robert ondrovic

photo by robert ondrovic

so, what can all of this crazy moon stuff mean for us? 

well, it’s obvious that the cycle of nature is the same as the cycle of life, teaching us about life, death, and rebirth. there is much to learn from nature. so, i dare say that all of these cosmic happenings can hold symbolic meanings for us too.

it’s easy to see that what’s happening tonight is rare and beautiful and filled with energy. and that’s scientifically true. the tides get all crazy when there is a full moon, and when it’s a super moon, it’s even more crazy. so, first of all, all of this equals intense energy moving around us. up in space, down on earth, in our souls.

1 // surrender to change

and, anyone knows, when there is energy, something is happening. change is occurring. so, tonight, i believe that all of this magical, scientific moon stuff is reminding that life is about changes, especially considering that all of this is happening just a few days after the autumn equinox.

perhaps now is the time to let go. to surrender. to release the old ways of living + step into a new way of living + being. changes are inevitable, but right now, these changes can give us a doorway into a whole new way of living.

2 // align with your true self

as the earth and moon and sun all align for a short moment tonight, maybe we can use that magic to begin to learn how to align our own lives. to live the life on the outside that we feel called to on the inside. perhaps it’s a time of action. a time of learning to balance our ego, who we are, and what is best for our soul with our call to be in community, in partnership, and global beings. i don’t think of this as  something that is a struggle or a fight. it just is. it’s a time of high awareness of both. and the importance of both. we need to live our own authentic lives, while at the same time live as global, loving citizens.

3 // the power is within

so, as we stand on the brink of something new, a whole new way of living perhaps, we can realize with this big moon hanging above us tonight, that we have the power within. it’s up to us to choose. no one can do it for us. no one will do it for us. it is up to us to take control of our own lives, to choose to live the best lives that we can. it’s up to us to decide to take that first step in letting on + moving on.

4 // see your shadow side

nights like these, with their mysterious + mystical full moons and lunar eclipses, are the perfect time to take a few moments to discover that nudge that is within us. it’s the perfect time to stare out the window at the moon and wonder a bit about that quiet whisper within that tells us who we are and who we are supposed to be. and with the eclipse tonight as well, as the moon seems to be hidden for a moment, we can symbolically go within to our dark side as well. we can explore and look at those things that we are keeping in the shadows of our soul.

don’t push it away right now. let’s embrace our shadows. embrace our darkness. look and feel and see all that is within us – the good and the bad. see where we are stuck.

an aligned life embraces the balance of the light + the dark. just as the earth, aligned with the sun + the moon stand directly and perfectly balanced in between the two.

moon path

whether you are spiritual or not, tonight’s moon happenings are something to experience. i invite you to spend a few moments gazing at the sky. and, if you really feel like it, pull out a journal or your blog and write down your thoughts + feelings. explore the ways that you see your life changing. think about who you really want to be. discover the dark within, face it, and then decide what choices you want to make in your life. change is happening. it is occurring. and it always will. such is life. and we are called to simply surrender to that.

but, how we respond to it, what we do with our lives, well, that’s all up to us. 

use the cosmic love + beauty of the night to inspire you to move forward. and remember, that you are loved + accepted just as you are. hold on, surrender, reach inward + move forward. you are called to greatness. moon blessings to you all.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

and just for fun:

since we all live in different places, tonight’s events are happening at different times. you can use this eclipse calculator to figure out the best time to view the eclipse from your location.

the times in uppsala, sweden (where i live):

begins: mon, 28 sep 2015, 02:11

maximum: mon, 28 sep 2015, 04:47

ends: mon, 28 sep 2015, 07:22

duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes

mantras that blow my mind

about a week ago i shared with you some awesome mantras that i came across. and, i challenged us to discover + create some mantras of our own.

it was really fun to dig into my soul and pull out some of the words that always touch me. words that i now realize are not that deep inside me. for, as i began to list my mantras, i realize how they are connected to my core beliefs + priorities in life. i draw on them constantly at different times the day or week or year, for they all have their own purpose.

and, it turns out that i have a ton of matras/sayings/phrases/quotes that i return to again + again in my life. and i most definitely cannot narrow it down to one. so, you’re gonna get blasted with those that mean the absolute most to me.

yes, it can be annoying with words and quotes. it can feel cliche and fake. some of my mantras may be sayings that “everyone” uses. but, f*ck that (see how i used that mantra from the other week, now bringing into my fold of go-to mantras?!). these words + phrases speak to me deeply. personally. so i’m totally fine with sharing them with the rest of the world. i don’t even care what the rest of the world thinks about them, or me. all i know is that when i need them, these mantras are here to remind me + inspire me.  i suppose you could say that they define me.

1. i am the vine. you are the branches. 

when things feel crazy, or get hectic, or i forget who i am, or feel stressed out about what to do, then i go straight to this mantra to remind me that, in reality, i have only one job. the only thing that i am supposed to do is be.
me vine tattoo

if you think about what a branch on a vine does, it ain’t much. it is not actively doing anything except remaining attached. the work flows through it. flowers + leaves bloom only because the branch remains attached. we are the same. all that we can give and be for this world, all that we need to do in order to make a difference is to simply be. to be exactly who we are, attached to our soul, letting the life and magic of the universe, and of spirit, flow through us. when we are true to ourselves, then we will make more of a difference than we could ever imagine.

2. all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

this is a quote from the christian mystic, julian of norwich. julian lived in england in the 13oos, right in the middle of the time of the plagues. she lost most everyone she knew to death and even fell deathly ill herself. and it is recorded that she had visions, or showings, of jesus christ to her. in these mystical experiences she came to understand the boundless love that god has for everyone. that life is much more about relationships and compassion, than of duty and rules.

she spent her life, after recovering, cloistering herself in a little room off of the side of a church, anchoring herself to her faith. she was,in fact, called an anchoress, meeting with people through a hole in the wall, listening to them and talking with them. counseling + supporting them.

hers was an optimistic theology. one that she shared with everyone she talked with, and even in her all of her writings. her message? in the end, god is good and only good. and all will be well.


what more can i say myself except, this i believe deeply. this is the core of who i am and how i see the world. it is not some rose-colored, unicorn optimism. it is not some simplistic, childish belief (or maybe it is). but, it is a deep knowing, a knowing i tell you, that all will be well. i cannot describe it more. and while i have had no showings like julian, i have had moments. and i know, just as much as i know that i am breathing, that this mysterious, inexplicable belief is true.

3. breathe

in life, i remember that, in order to stay focused, motivated, and authentic… in order to stay connected (see #1 above), then i must simply breathe. i must get quiet so that i can hear. i must go within. i must contemplate, meditate, practice yoga, pray, and take care of my soul. for, when i do that, then i feel + hear + know.  i can more easily embrace the mystical, mysterious parts of life, because of the experiences i have when i retreat and spend time alone. it is like nourishment for the soul. a chance to let go + surrender. a safe place of peace, where anxiety and worry and fear gain perspective. when i simply remember to breathe, then i simply remember who i am. and that all is well (see #2 above).

4. there’s no where you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be

thank you, beatles. when i first heard this lyric, and really heard it for what it was, then i knew that it captured a spiritual belief that many mystics/gurus/monks/theologians hold to be true. the present moment is all we have. practicing the art of living in the present moment helps us to create a life of gratitude, compassion, love, joy, and inner peace. and while i am no expert at this at all, i have found that as the years pass, i am able to grasp onto this way of living more + more. and, as i do, my life has become filled with a sense of calm and certainty that exists even as chaotic, messiness swirls around me.


when i am able to accept where i am, even if i don’t like it at that specific moment, then i am much more able to go with the flow of the universe, as the tao says. and this, in turn, immerses us in a way of living in the middle of mystery and energy. we get wrapped up in the crazy, beautiful, mystical spirit that tells us who we are. and, in order to do that, we simply must forget what we think we know is best for us at all times. we must let go of expectations. we must set aside the beliefs that we think that we have to know the fact or have all of the power. we must put down the ideas that money, security, success, and the “normal” way is the way to growth and transformation. no, friends, the way is the way of freedom and lightheartedness and calm in the midst of everything that happens. it the way that focuses only on what is really real: love.

5. it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey.

oh lord have i annoyed people with this mantra of mine. if you know me well, then you know that i throw this out there all of the time. but, i am convinced of its truth for our lives.

as a lover of travel, i automatically use the metaphor of a journey when i think about life. many of us do. we all know the references. the mountains, the valleys, the deserts, the oceans to cross, the canyons to jump. the trails to wander. we even talk about which path we choose to take in life when we talk about deciding on a career. we know that we are on a journey. that life is one long process of living.

road trip new mexico

as a kid, just like everyone else, when i took a roadtrip with my parents all i could think about was the destination. when would we get there? i just wanted the trip to be over. but, my parents somewhere along he way taught me that the trip was part of the journey. yes, the destination was important, but just as important were all of the sights we saw along the way. something that took me a long time to learn.

but, now that i get it, i embrace it. and it makes life so much more fun. it’s a very concrete way to live in the present moment (see #4). and i find myself doing my best to teach those around me that adventure is found everywhere. that part of life is living right now, experiencing what is happening right now, and letting all of it become part of the story of our journey in life. besides, if we only focus on the end, then we will miss out on so very much.

believe me, though, i call on this mantra when i’m dealing with a challenge, or when something is not going my way. i literally remind myself that it’s all part of the journey. that the missed train or the unexpected job or even the death that occurs, is all part of my story. all something to teach me and transform me and help me grow. and all i need to do is just take one more step forward.

6. the mountains are calling and i must go

i think that i think about this mantra of mine every single day. even if i don’t go outside, and even if i am nowhere near some deep, beautiful nature, i call up images of trees, water, forests, and mountains in my mind’s eye. i need nature. i need to see the sky. i need to feel the breeze. i need to gaze out over the sea, or feel the sand, or smell a flower, or touch a leaf. nature renews my soul. nature teaches me. some of the most powerful moments i have had in my life have occurred among nature. in the midst of nature, i feel vulnerable + powerful all at the same time. i recognize my place in the world, just another living thing called to be true to who i am.

max patch

oh, i love the city. but, i daily remind myself that the mountains are always calling me. they are softly whispering to me to get out + explore. they are always urging me to take the long way home. and even if i can’t get out into the countryside, the mountains are calling me to observe all of nature that is around me.

7. the world is my parish

so, this one comes from my theology days as well. it’s something that john wesley, the father of the methodist denomination, said in reference to his work. in england in the 1700s, wesley was pretty much pissed off with how the anglican british church was handling things. many blue collar workers, the poor, widows, children, were being left out of the anglican church. it had become a church for the elite, with close to no social work involved. wesley, an anglican (as everybody was then) pastor/minister was not satisfied with people being left out, and not being able to hear a message of love and grace from god.

so, he took to the streets. literally. he preached from fields in the countryside, early in the morning, where people could stop for a moment to and from their shifts at work. he preached in the town squares, traveling on horseback from city to city. eventually, he found himself on a ship to america, where he began preaching to slaves, natives, as well as the colonial whites from europe. of course this was scandalous. and viewed by the church of england as being in contempt.

homeless refugee

but, wesley was living out his mantra: the world is my parish. now, a parish is an ecclesiastical (religious) district having its own church and member of the clergy. it’s the small area where a pastor/minister is assigned to work and serve the people. like a town, or neighborhood, or county. wesley, however, defined the entire world as his parish. and he lived just as he said. preaching and sharing a message not of class, damnation, fear, or judgement to people; but rather a message on endless grace and love offered to every single person in the world. and he didn’t really care what the church of england thought about him.

i grew up a methodist, hearing this message myself in the churches that i attended. i learned about wesley and his methodical, old establishment-pushing ways of sharing that message. and then, i began preaching and sharing that same message myself. i shared it not because it was what i supposed to do. no one ever told me what i should or should not believe. i shared that message because i grew to believe it myself.

map wall asheville

and today, i still believe in the same message that john wesley spread in his unconventional, status quo-crushing, daring ways. the message of love that all people should be able to hear.

today, i often quote this mantra to myself as i walk around. as i see all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations, with all kinds of lives. and as i travel to far off places and countries. this mantra reminds me that we are all equal. that we all deserve love and justice and peace. that is our right as human beings, and there is not one person left out from the grace and love that is available to us, within us.

i may not preach or work in a church anymore, but i don’t need to. the world is my parish. the whole world is where i work to use my life to bring about peace and to share love. at least, that is my hope.

8. follow your bliss

this is that great quote by the mythologist, philosopher, writer joseph campbell. when i stumbled onto it years ago, it was just the permission that i needed at that point in my life to give me that extra push to being to truly live that life that i had been working on creating inside me.

path camp

i repeat this mantra constantly. it is an empowering one. and one that sums up everything. period. it is being attached, and knowing that all will be well. it is breathing, being present in the moment, enjoying the journey, connecting with nature, and sharing love with the world. for me, follow your bliss, is learning to embrace a life of being, loving, and living.

 9. be. love. live.

and this is the mantra that i created for myself, and for this blog, 4 and a half years ago. it has now become a way of living. and here is what i mean when i say


find yourself. find what makes your soul sing. and do it. follow that path. commit to letting your inner voice lead you. follow your instinct, your heart, your soul. be you – exactly who you were created to be. because you are beautiful and you are loved. just as you are. embrace everything that you are. love yourself and others just a little bit more. live your life to the fullest. it makes all the difference in the world – for you, and for everyone around you. 

onwards + upwards! xoxo

thanks so much for reading, and for creating your mantras, if you did. and if you didn’t, well, then get to it! please leave a comment below and a link to your blog post with your mantras. it’s so great to share + get inspiration from each other!


how to plan a retreat filled with all of your favorite things

the arrival of autumn in just a few days has got me thinking about going on a retreat.

(geek alert now) the word retreat comes from the latin word retrehere, meaning to pull back. exactly what i think of now when i hear the word.

when i worked with teenagers + their spiritual growth, i often used short retreats as times to really dig deep and connect – with each other + with their souls. contrary to what we usually assume about teens, they actually crave ancient practices, quiet reflection, and a chance to just be. and i never would have learned that, had i not pushed them + invited them to spend 24 hours together, creating a sacred, intentional space.

these memories are some of the best ones that i have from working with teenagers in a spiritual setting. i enjoyed planning the retreats as much as i loved hosting them. in fact, i remember wondering if having/hosting retreats was something that i could do full-time. i still wonder that, and i hope to actually incorporate that into my business as i grow it.

you would come + have a retreat with me, wouldn’t you?

retreats are powerful. they are very intentional times set aside for soul work. for connecting with ourselves and whatever divine, sacred, beautiful connection we have with the universe. they give us a chance to slow down, to listen, to learn, to  unplug, and to dive inward.


retreats are like climbing a mountain and standing there, on top, gazing out in awe of everything that lays out before you. they are filled inspiring, soul-filling moments. chances to refuel, realign, reassess. they get us out of our everyday life and our everyday routines.

of course, when we think of a retreat, we think of jaunting off to some cabin in the woods or a monastery in ireland or scotland, or taking a pilgrimage to a little hut somewhere near the holy land, or sitting in a temple in some eastern country, or some cottage by the sea, or even a hotel room in the middle of new york city.

the point is, we often think of going somewhere. somewhere a bit exotic and extremely inspiring.

however, that is not always possible. or even necessary. my retreats with my teenagers that were the most amazing, were ones that we spent in our local church building. we simply gathered in a room and stayed there. we visited the sanctuary some, but other than that, we keep ourselves confined to one room and the kitchen. we didn’t even go outside.

with autumn arriving here in the northern hemisphere, we are all retreating to our homes to nest and snuggle and hunker down before the winter. so, it’s the perfect time for a little retreat i believe. a home retreat.

there is no reason that we cannot celebrate a solitary retreat at home. creating our own schedule, rituals, and routines. it is an opportunity to have a day filled with all of the things that touch our soul, that inspire us, that teach us and keep us in check with who we really are. not to mention, they just give us a time to slow down and really relax. a day of sabbath. of holy rest.


so, how we do a home retreat?

well, first we adhere to some common elements that make up a retreat: aloneness and routine

aloneness: it may be hard to find a way to be alone. for example, in my little apartment, we have a kitchen, a living room, and a hall with a little alcove at one end where we sleep. and there are no doors. the most obvious place for me to be is in our alcove. our bed is large enough that i can study, read, nap, write, meditate and even eat there. it would also be easy to create a little temporary altar beside the bed. of course, i can leave the alcove to prepare tea or use the bathroom. but, the point is that i need to communicate to my wife that i will be spending my day there. in functional silence (meaning that i only speak if there is fire or flood).

i also believe that a retreat day is one that is to be unplugged. no social media. no facebooking or instagramming. for me, writing + photography are ok. but, there is no need to be on the internet. this is a time to be with ourselves.

routine: this retreat is our own to create. therefore, there are no rules at all. it can be a withdrawal from the regular stresses of life, or a day filled with study and reading. it can be a day of mediation or even sleep. it can be a combination of all of these things. or whatever we want. the point is, it is our day to create the space and feeling that our soul most craves. so, it is just to decide what our priority would be. what do we want to focus on?

we decide for ourselves the elements of retreat that are important for us.

for me, there are many things that i could use a retreat for. like reading and learning and taking notes. really soaking up a book. working on editing and choosing photographs for a book i would like to put together. and, while these things sound like working, they are not during the retreat. instead, within the framework of a retreat, they become spiritual practices. everything would be done with a higher level of awareness and mindfulness and intention.

and leaving my little alcove is something that i would also enjoy doing. leaving for a long walk outside, or a bike ride. something done in silence. a chance to photograph + just be in nature.

other than aloneness + routine, though, the retreat becomes whatever we want and need it to be. thus creating a very intimate retreat experience.

so, here’s a little example of what i am thinking about right now:

6:30a – 7:30a    Meditation
730a – 8a          Breakfast
8a -11a              Reading session
11a – 1:30p      Photography walk + lunch break
1:30p – 2:30p  Nap
2:30p – 3:30p  Photography book planning
3:30p – 4p        Fika break (coffee/tea)
4p – 5p             Meditation
5p -7p               Read, study, write
7p-8p                Dinner
8p – 930p        More study
930p – 10p     Closing practice

while it seems that there is a lot packed in and i am not just being, actually this is me spending time doing exactly what i want. fulfilling those things that fill my soul. it’s not about feeling the need to do something that i should do in order to have a proper retreat in the eyes of anyone else. instead this is all about listening to what i need and crave in my life at this moment in time.

meditate mexican blanket

and, there is always a desire + a place for retreats that we pay for, that take us way out of our regular days and place us in the midst of other pilgrims or in exotic, beautiful places.

 i know that a home retreat, even though it doesn’t require travel or money, is not a completely easy thing to make happen. we have families, jobs, small spaces. but, with some creative planning, i believe that we can find a way to make it happen. just one day from morning to night. if you’re lucky, you may even plan a whole weekend or a week. a weekend is most definitely something that i would like to plan to do within the next 12 months. but, no matter how long or short, planning a retreat is planning a special time for just you and your spirit.

here are a few tips to help you plan your home retreat:

1. limit your communication with your family/partner/children/people you may come in contact with. If you cannot go completely silent because of responsibilities (not because you don’t want to. hehe.), then only talk in the morning and in the evening. try to only let your soul speak to you.

2. unplug. you have got to unplug. do not answer your phone. do not text. turn off your notifications. better yet, just leave your phone somewhere else. if you will be writing on your computer, turn off notifications and limit your use to a document app. no surfing. promise me.

3. make your space yours. clean. neat. separate. gather all of the things that you will need throughout the day: journals, pens, camera, books, candles, headphones, blankets, sweaters…

4. decide on your retreat priorities. what do you want your day to look like? what are the things you need, that speak to your soul? what are you missing in your life? keep it simple. Don’t try to do everything. focus, and know that you can plan another retreat soon.

5. prepare for your meals in advance. be basic. be light. be healthy. but, don’t start something new. just go with things you love. and keep it simple and relaxing. and of course, if you take medications, keep taking them while on retreat.

6. step away if you want. you can leave your retreat space, especially if your retreat is longer than few days. take a walk, go to the grocery store or gym.  if you do leave, try to stay as quiet and as mindful as possible. listen only to the natural sounds around you. keep your responses brief. parties and dates are not meant to be part of this day, of course. this day is all about you.

7. this is the most important part: create a schedule + stick to it. it may sound boring and confining, but it will set your free. and if you want free time, schedule it in. but, make sure you stick to your schedule, other wise you will wander off track, lose focus, and miss the magic of the retreat.

8. lastly, there is no need for guilt. you and i deserve this. this is all about learning how to become better us’es. there is so much within us  – so much power, inspiration, love, peace. and choosing to create a home retreat is simply us taking care of ourselves, our souls. it’s a day that gives us freedom, that reminds us who we really are + what we really want, that inspires us and prepares us to be used out in the world. so, really, you think it’s all about you. but, it’s not. it’s all about loving and living and making a difference.

challenge yourself. do this. i am. my retreat day is scheduled for saturday, the 14th of november. it’ll be good + dark in sweden then. most likely rainy. and a perfect day to be inside – literally + figuratively. care to join me in your own retreat in your own home?

leave me a comment below if you’d like to join in and create your own retreat. and, of course, let me know if you have any questions/need any guidance. (a few ideas + suggestions inspired by this post.)

onwards + upwards xoxo

f*ck it + other mantras

i’ve discovered a few phrases that i am going to incorporate into my life. let’s call them mantras.

of course, i have a few that i already use quite often. must notably, follow your bliss. the famous quote by joseph campbell about discovering who you are and living a beautiful, authentic life. in that quote i find my inspiration to live life truly as i am, to live life to the fullest, and to let my life be used to make a difference in the world. yes, i’d say that it just may be the defining phrase that sums up my life over the past few years.

i am a major lover of words, you know, so mantras mean a lot to me. quotes too. somehow, letters and phrases and sentences strung together penetrate deep into my soul. connecting with something that is deep + wise, making my heart beat a little bit faster, giving me courage, reminding me of the grounding truths of life, and inspiring me to keep on keeping on.

and the beauty of mantras is that they are short, concise phrases that we can carry with us throughout the day. giving us that extra push or reminding us of our own power. mantras are always close by, ready to help us just in that moment that we need them. we can draw on them constantly, and use them like our breath. yep. there’s nothing like a good mantra to get you back on your feet.


so, here are a few new kick ass mantras that i’ve discovered by mailynn stormon-trinh. i’m absolutely incorporating them into my own little mantra collection. enjoy!

1. Accelerate through the chaos.

I learned this mantra while studying theatre in college. From an acting point of view, it is about being able to stay focused on the moment as it unfolds, despite a gawking audience and a co-star who’s screwed up their lines. A good actor is able to forget the moronic fight she had with her equally moronic boyfriend just hours before the show. She is able to move gracefully through the chaos of the outside world in order to connect totally to the character she is embodying.

My acting days are long behind me but this mantra echoes through my life all the time. After all, as the grand William Shakespeare proclaimed, “All the world’s a stage” and we constantly face the challenge of staying with ourselves as mania unfolds around us.

When life presents me stress, anxiety and pressures, this phrase helps remind me that there are things in this world I cannot control, should not ignore and will never be able to change.

I must accept these truths in order not to lose myself in the madness.

2. I am a fucking unicorn.

The first elephant journal article I ever read just happened to be one of the few pieces of online writing that has irrevocably changed my life. I won’t explain too much about it, since Bryonie Wise says it best herself in “I’m a F*cking Unicorn. (Or 10 Things to do when you get fired for the first time).”

I stumbled upon Bryonie’s words during a time in my life when I felt an overwhelming sense that I was repressing things within myself for the sake of fitting in. This, my friends, is a painful, painful way of living.

These thoughts might always be a struggle for me. I still sometimes feel alienated by my surroundings or like I don’t belong, but it is immensely helpful to consider that perhaps the reason why I don’t quite fit in is because I am a magical, mystical unicorn and everyone else is horse, mule or a common ass (pun intended).

This saying does more than help me remember to stay true to myself. It makes me feel pride in who I am. I am a fucking unicorn.

3. Deep inside me, there is an inner reservoir of vitality.

I have one of my long time yoga teachers to thank for this gem of a mantra. My teacher introduced this saying into my life during the middle of a difficult asana flow sequence that had many of us sweating, gasping for breath and feeling like we were going to crumble into the earth below us. Her words kept me going.

There are moments when I feel like things are just too damn hard. That I am stuck. That I have too little energy to pull myself up and out of the rut I’ve been holed up in. And then I remember: I am here. I am alive because deep inside of me, I have this reserved pool of strength that will always be available for me to drink from, no matter how parched and tired I get.

Here is my advice to those who suffer from depression and don’t know this already: inside of us is an ocean of health, trust me. The moment before things become too much to bear, our little toe, or the smallest part of ourselves, will find the waters of this shoreline.

Knowing that there is this innate strength inside myself has been immensely helpful for me during my darkest hours.

4. I want to live a big, new, happy, free, unusual life.

In my early adolescence, I found a book entitled: A Big New Free Happy Unusual Life sitting on my mother’s bookshelf. The cover of the book illustrated a woman walking down a road, kicking up her heels in a fit of joy. I remember thinking to myself that,  “Yes, this is what I want for my life.”

I’ve never met anyone who actively seeks a boring, small, average life. However, so many of us are brought up in a society that only teaches us to live a life that is just this.

I have to actively push myself to go against the grain, take risks and to spread my wings as much as I can. It’s not always easy, in fact it is never easy, but by god, I don’t want to look back on things and realize I said “no” to life. The way to prevent this is to never settle too long with boredom.

Try pretty much anything. Be open. Be bold.

5. Fuck it.

Crass, yes, but I’ve found this phrase to be possibly the most profound two words ever strung together.

I cultivated “fuck it” as my life’s motto during a particularly free-spirited but challenging time in my life.

It’s sort of like the non-corporate, vulgar version of Nike’s “Just Do It,” or the mellower, “Why not?” phrase that we often take and give as words of encouragement to be brave, take chances and follow our passions.

There is something in this phrase that is incredibly liberating. These words somehow belittle the monstrosity of a challenge. Saying it also makes me feel so damn cool, calm and collected even when taking the biggest of risks.

“Fuck it” is behind all of my great travels and adventures. It has been there for me when I resolved to quit jobs that weren’t good for me. It resides in me every time I sit down to write, something I find utterly fulfilling, but also utterly difficult and scary. “Fuck it” has opened my world up to love and relationships. It makes me feel like even life’s toughest decisions are never final (which, mostly, they aren’t).

Next time when feeling afraid of making a leap, go on, try whispering these two small words.

Those who are anything like me, might often forget how infinitely powerful they are. It may take a few encouraging words before it resonates how brave and beautiful they really are. So I urge everybody to find their own mantras.

Accelerate through the mess in this world.

Wear the unicorn horn with pride.

Prove that dancing is always possible, even with a heart ache.

Live the big, bold, crazy life of your dreams. 

Because fuck it, why not?

homework: let’s all create 5 mantras on our own and then share them on our blogs. what do you say? are you in? plan to share them next tuesday, the 22 of september. i can’t wait to see what we all come up with!

onwards + upwards! xoxo


// week thirty seven // the answer is blowin in the wind

happy monday to you! here we are again, at the start of a new week. i still feel as if i am spinning. like life has picked up some crazy, ridiculous speed. and yet, i also still feel quite calm. i am sorry if i sound like a broken record right now. but, it’s just a crazy time for me. so much is happening. so much is changing. life is really taking hold here in uppsala, which is good. at the same time, i have extreme homesickness for the mountains of north carolina.

with everything flying around about me, changing, transitioning, moving forward, i just pray that i stay grounded. that i remain true to myself. that i slow down each and every day.

technically, i don’t feel like that will be a problem, but i am just trying to stay aware. i am trying to really, truly focus on the present moment, even as the present moment is filled with so much that i never imagined.

field blowing

there truly has been a sudden shift in my life int he past two-three weeks. since summer vacation ended. of course, things have changed drastically throughout 2015, as at the beginning of the year my love and i found ourselves moving back to sweden.

yes, so very much has shifted and is still shifting. and it is just taking me a while to adjust. there is much that i don’t recognize, and much that is familiar. ultimately, i’ve spent so long dreaming, planning, wishing, hoping and suddenly stuff is happening. suddenly there is no need to sit + wish. now it’s time to go with the flow that’s quickly flowing, and at the same time stay consciously connected + grounded + aware.

i feel a bit like this photo above. completely secure and yet whipping + blowing in the breeze of a swift wind. i’m safe and being true to myself. yet i am being blown around. but, the reeds, the grass, they inspire me. they remind me that, once again, the ultimate job that i have is to simply stay attached. to keep my heart + head and soul aligned. to listen. to bend. to just be me.

last week, i didn’t take as many photos as i usually do because i worked so many hours. many of the photos i did take i have already shared with you in my blog posts from last week. so, if you’d like to see some of how my week was you can check here, here, and here. today, i just felt like this one photo and these reflections were exactly what i needed.

now, it’s time to get this week underway +  we shall see what other changes come into our life as the days pass. in the meantime, my soul knows that i must meditate. i must sleep. write. eat. enjoy. and stay connected. the energy that i feel is strong. it is a bit foreign to me. but, it is pushing + guiding me into a whole new phase in life.

i admit that, at first, the wind + craziness have felt scary. but, as i remain in the essence of who i am, it all settles down and i become at one with the flow. the answer really is, my friend, blowing in the wind.

video created on saturday on the grounds of the castle in uppsala

onwards + upwards! xoxo

on the anniversary of my tattoo: how i learned it was all about me

i used to think that the purpose of life was to do all that you can to help others.

the reason we were here was to love + be of service to others, to make the world a better place. even if that meant losing your self a bit. i believed that we were here to sacrifice and give and serve until everyone was able to live in freedom. free from poverty, homelessness, violence, fear, hate. it was part of our calling, our reason for being. our co-creation with the divine energy of the universe is what would help to create a better world, a world that was meant to be as beautiful and peaceful and just as possible.

i distinctly remember thinking specifically about mother teresa every single day. wondering how i could be more like her. or like martin luther king junior. or any revolutionary, peacemaker, or spiritual guru who lived life so passionately that they would even sacrifice their life for the good of humanity. risking their safety in order to stick to their message.

i wanted to be like them all. i wanted that passion. that fearlessness. that committment. i felt that if i could not live up to them, then my life would be a waste.

i am certain that some of my belief in an extreme life of service has been inherited and passed down from my puritan/wesleyan/methodist ancestors. in great britain, their hope was to reform the corrupted church of england, to create a faith that was focused not only belief (personal holiness), but on social holiness too (social activism). they stressed that there is no faith if there is no care for the poor, the outcast, the sick. who jesus called “the least of these.” true faith was faith that was lived out. it wasn’t memorized or celebrated on sundays only. yes, learning and growing and personal faith was one part of the spiritual equation. but, from all of that personal holiness, grew works of mercy and love. social justice. in other words: we should really, truly, honestly practice what we preach. like. for. real.

these beliefs and practices were, of course, spread and put into action in the colonies when my ancestors made their way from great britain to the new world, in search for a place where they could create a home and a community that reflected the balance of personal and social holiness.

me coffee cup

so, this balance runs through my blood. it explains to me my deep desire for personal growth, transformation and my dreams of making a difference in the world.

i still believe in this balance, in this way of living. in fact, i still believe that balancing a personal spirituality and a life of social activism is the kind of life we are meant to live. but, over the years as i have grown and explored and discovered, i realize that i had one huge part of it all wrong.

what i had all wrong was the order of everything.

when i was so obsessed with mother teresa and MLK, i felt such pressure to do the same things that they did. and i never thought i’d be able to be like them and do what they did. but, oh how i wanted to. i had no idea how to balance a personal, self-centered spirituality and rid the world of poverty or end racism at the same time. how was it possible to focus on my self if there was so much that needed to be fixed? tackling the big issues of inequality and injustice would take all of my (and others) time. there was no time to sit still and be with myself. there was so much to do!

do. do. do. do. do. and i had no idea where to begin. and, i set myself up for failure with all of this pressure to do as much as i could for everyone else. funny thing was, i don’t think i actually did anything. i just fretted about doing stuff and tried to figure out what stuff to do.

i soon realized that i wasn’t an activist like mother teresa or MLK. i was a contemplative. but, anytime i would retreat to my safe place, to where my soul felt alive, i felt guilty. those things that made my soul sing, that gave me those mountaintop moments, always involved words, images, books, studies, classrooms, nature, travels, cultures. i felt wild + free + inspired when i went camping. or when i sat in a workshop. or when i read the words of an ancient mystic. i felt connected and grounded when i lit a candle or said a prayer or sat in silence.

but, none of this was doing anything. and all of these things were all about me.

me. me. me. me. me. me. me. how selfish was this? and what was wrong with me that i felt more “spiritual” by being with myself than by volunteering in a soup kitchen?

so, for years, i struggled and battled with myself and with god. feeling ashamed one minute and completely inspired the next.

me meditate

and then, over the course of a year or so, it all made sense. no it did not happen overnight. it took a year to begin to understand. and about 8 years to discover how to live it.

but, one night, as i sat in a room with 11 other women discussing a chapter about radical discipleship (you know the type of person i wanted to be. MLK, mother teresa, julian of norwich, etc.), i uncovered something that struck me like a bolt of lightening.

according to the book we were reading, being was way more important that doing. or at least it was the starting point. the foundation.

 to do things without first getting connected + grounded + inspired simply means that we are doing empty deeds. perhaps they are to make ourselves look good, or to get into heaven, or whatever. but, that’s not the point. that doesn’t make us good people or radical disciples or saviors of the world.

the point is, that in order to do anything, we first have to be. to simply get attached. grounded. we have to have a sense of self. we have to know who we are. we have to listen to our soul. we have to make it all about “me”.

that’s not how many of us think, though. and it doesn’t even make sense. especially because it seems selfish. everything in society teaches us to not think about ourselves, but to only care what other people think and the things that we do. that’s what defines us and makes us important. how much we do for others is what makes us “good people”.  so, how could it actually be the other way around?

how could being focused on inner self be the way to help others?!

well, i let this belief begin to sink in a little bit over a long period of time, and i realized that this is exactly what my ancestors passed on to me. this was the personal holiness part of the equation. although it’s no equation. and it’s definitely not linear or hierarchical. instead, it’s just an eternally flowing circle.

when we begin with being, with slowing down to simply be with ourselves and listen to our soul, then we are filled with inspiration, we feel power that we already have, we discover who we really are, we get in touch with that mystical spirit that connects us all. and all of those radical, good deeds that end up causing people to change the world? well, they simply flow + grow out of us. like the leaves on a vine branch. only we are not the leaves, we are the branch. our job is to just be. to stay attached.

positivity, healing, love, peace, calm – it all just begins to flow because we are attached to the source of all things, to the universe, to god. we allow ourselves to be open, and we find that special thing that makes us who we are. and we can’t help but use it. it just happens. naturally. organically.

in other words, being helps us discover our personal legend. our personal destiny. our calling. and from that, we become superhero on a mission to save the world.

me cup of coffee tattoo vine

when i first grabbed onto this idea of being before doing, i decided to get a tattoo. a vine that wraps around my wrist to symbolize staying grounded + attached. thanks to Facebook, i saw a post this morning that said that i got that tattoo 8 years ago today. and i just couldn’t believe how my life just keeps aligning with the flow.

you see, on monday, i began a year long course to get a certification in sat nam rasayan – a meditation technique out of kundnalini yoga that focuses on healing by being fully present. my guru lady teachers told us that, in order to be fully present and open in sat nam rasayan, it all begins by focusing on ourselves, on using our senses to help us allow and feel everything that is happening around us.

it’s the opposite of emptying your mind and focusing on someone else. it’s about creating a space so big and free and peaceful that it spreads out to everyone, everywhere. it’s about learning to hold that space open and become a stable, safe presence. in no way do we focus on any other person but ourselves. we don’t sense what another person feels or imagine what someone else thinks, we simply practice being. but, by being fully present in ourselves, we change the world.

so, there you go. it’s all about me. it’s all about you.

that was the behind-the-scenes spirituality that my young adult heroes had. i only saw or read about the great things that they did. what i didn’t see was the personal spirituality that was the foundation of the amazing affects they had on the world.

that was exactly what my ancestors were trying to explain: the necessity of living a balanced life, focused on a strong, grounded personal spirituality, coupled with active, outward-focused social activism.

with that knowledge, friends, you and i are just as empowered and amazing as ghandi and malala. we are just as much of a humanitarian rockstar as bono, or an ambassador as angelina jolie. we are just as important and inspiring as rosa parks and stephen hawking. and we are simply carrying on the same messages that our ancestors have shared throughout history. 

so, get down on that mat and breathe deep. or find a corner to pray in. light a candle and just be with yourself. create a daily ritual of just being. and soon, your soul will guide you. and simply being exactly who you are will make a difference in this world. i promise.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

whenever september comes around: my season for rebirth

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ― Mark Twain

41 septembers ago i was born. 8 septembers ago i felt as if i was reborn. and this september? well, i feel as if i am being reborn once again.

is it possible to be reborn multiple times in a lifetime? some, even many, would disagree with me, saying that a person can only be born again once. but, that’s just sad, i think. i’m not sure i could handle knowing that i had been born again, or reborn ( i like that word so much better), and with that one rebirth i was done. what would be the point of the rest of my life? why even bother living if being reborn meant that i had acquired everything i needed to be a complete human being, that i had already reached enlightenment, so to speak.

no, that’s not how i see life. instead, i see it much more like a lifelong transformation. a long adventure, where the destination isn’t even really that relevant. it’s really all about the journey all along the way.

when you think of it, all of nature is a cycle of rebirth, life, death, and then rebirth once again. we’re wired for growth and transformation. it’s organic. natural. authentic.

if life is a journey, then multiple births must be possible. they just signify the milestones and growth points that we pass along our way. but, they signify very, very important ones.


in the background, as i have been doing my regular old blogging, enjoying summer, having adventures, and soaking up the people + moments of my life, i have also been doing some intense internal work.

it all began when i did 21 days of mantra meditation. like, i repeated out loud a different mantra every day for 30 minutes each day. it was powerful. there was no sitting quietly, meditating in silence. it was active, use my voice, feel the vibrations in my body, mantra-ing. and it was uncomfortable for one day. the rest of the days i felt energized, focused, and way more in touch with my soul than any other meditation series has ever given me.

i also have enjoyed a series of kundalini yoga passes that have been focused on the chakras. again, the movement, the focus, the hour-long yoga passes have inspired me + gotten me in touch with my soul more than ever before.

and i did all of these things at home. for free. by myself. i’ll leave you links to the 2 series (one on spotify + one a podcast) at the bottom of this post.


somehow, these active times of meditation, separated by a 3 week period of vacation time with my love, my brother + friends, have opened my understanding and my flow. they have been the closing moments of spirituality at this time of my life. my soul, my life, has naturally flowed from learning, listening, and discovering to living and doing.


my rebirth means entering a new phase of my life. the groundwork has all been laid. the source of my empowerment from within has been tapped. there is nothing left to do but to leap forward and live all that i have been learning.

september + rebirth

so, here i am at the beginning of another september. ready to celebrate another orbit around the sun. in awe that i’ve had the joy and honor to live yet another beautiful year filled with ups, down, mountain, valleys, beautiful sites, terrifying moments, confusions, and moments of bliss. and ready to embark on yet another year of circling the sun. of becoming a little more of who i am created to be.

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on this first day of september, however, i feel something different. a feel a kind of rebirth again. of making another great step into living an authentic life, of not discovering my soul, as i have been doing for the past 8 years, but of learning to live from my soul.

the other day, just before the full moon, a kindred spirit friend of mine, stacy, posted a link to a website that has some “wisdom readings”. kind of like a horoscope, i think. just for fun, i clicked on the link and this is the reading that i received:

beginnings and endings; shedding identity; lunar rhythms; cycles; fresh start; letting go; the only constant is change

The snake bites its own tail, creating a circle that cycles on forever. The end meets the beginning in a rhythm that never stops, is always spinning.

The Rebirth card beckons with a chance to make a fresh start. You need to let go of the old to welcome the new. But through it all you will still be you. The waves of life rise and fall. Go ahead: ride them all.

shut the front door! that could not have been any more spot on. for how i feel in life. for the upcoming celebration of my 41st birthday. for all of the new things that i am undertaking as autumn is beginning. i was totally blown away. and it was a complete affirmation of this feeling of being reborn, once again, in my life.

what comes next

autumn is practically here. september is here as of today. it is the season of beginnings. of gathering the fruit of our planting. of reaping what we have sown. of focusing and getting to work. of embracing the season of finding the joy and sacredness in everyday life, in ordinary things, in living authentically, true to ourselves.

8 years ago, right during my last big rebirth, i was in seminary. studying theology and spirituality. i explored all of the ways (from a christian perspective) that we “know” god. how god is revealed to us. i was studying to be a pastor/priest/minister (whatever word makes sense to you). but, i always knew that i would never actually do that.

my heart + soul challenged me to find my own path back then. to not simply take what i learned and use it for myself in my work, but to reach back into my education as a teacher and use all that i was learning to teach + inspire others. but that process of finding my path has taken a while.


back then i felt the call to take all of the religious bullshit that made no sense, and inspire others to see that it’s not about the religion, but about relationships. it’s often assumed that to be religious or spiritual means that one also is holy, above others, closed-minded, untouchable, perfect. that religion + spirituality actually have nothing to do with everyday life.

and i can understand how people feel and think that. religion has done a fabulous job of alienating, excluding, boring, putting up walls, creating rules, and pushing away real life. people get lost in empty rituals or old routines that mean nothing, instead of being given tools and ways of meeting the spiritual in every single little moment of life.

because it is possible, my friends., to live a meaningful, mindful, spiritual life. and, oh how beautiful it is when life is lived like that.

spirituality is not a box. it is freedom. and that, is what i intend to use this next part of my life teaching.

in seminary, i formulated my ideas and beliefs on how we can know that life is meant to be lived more deeply, how we are here to do more than exist, and how spirituality is actually a part of everyday life. the creative energies that connect us all (whether you call them god, magic, allah, tao, spirit, or anything else) move in and among us at all times. empowering + inspiring us, and teaching us to live life from our soul. and when we do that, then we are in creation with each other + the whole world, making a difference, spreading love + light.

i want to share + inspire others to find all of the ways to tap into our souls. all of the ways that energy and divine, holy, magical, sacred things show up, helping us to align our lives with our life’s purpose. inspiration is found + created in scriptures, traditions, experience, books, words, people, art, places, stories, music, nature, religions, science, mystery…


i believe that we are all searching for a deeper way to live life. and i have found a way of living with the mystery and magic – of learning to be, love, and live. how to follow my bliss. of course, my way is not the only way. in fact, my way is only my way for me. but, i am here to help inspire you and others to discover you own way, your own path, your own soul, your own truth.

the one truth that i do know, and i know it from a place that i cannot explain, is that we are all connected. that we are spiritual beings, called to live life as who we are created to be. and all of life is that beautiful journey of discovering + uncovering more of what’s in the depths of our soul, and how those depths are the places where the holy, divine energies of love and peace live.

my commitment

starting with this new month, with this new year of my life, in the midst of this new birth, i have committed myself to two different things which will help me work towards turning my dreams of writing, photography, education, blogging, and teaching into a business. a business that helps to guide and inspire others in finding their own bliss, in listening to their own souls, in living a mindful, intentional life filled with spirit and peace.

yoga mat sat nam rasaya

yesterday i began a year-long training called sat nam rasayan.  in sanskrit sat nam rasayan means “deep relaxation in the Divine Name” or “rise to oneself to the essence of True identity”.  it  is a meditative technique that focuses on the full ability to feel, thus leading to healing, or wholeness. it is a part of the study of kundalini yoga, something that i have practiced off and on for about 4 years now. this is an amazing opportunity to help me in working with myself + with others, in discovering our paths, our souls, and our unique purposes in life.

in october i will also begin a year-long course in life coach training. it will be an amazing year of learning all of the ins and outs of becoming an internationally certified life coach, or as i will say, spiritual coach.

so, in a year, i will be a certified spiritual coach with a certification in sat nam rasayan meditation as well. well on my way of beginning to practically answer my call to minister, guide, teach, and journey with others, as they discover their own souls.

 it is an amazing time in my life. and i am so incredibly blessed.

so. yeah. that was a lot of information. i may have simply written it down for myself. but, if you made it through and read it to the end, then i am eternally grateful for you caring enough to read my thoughts + words.

please know that i am here for you. i will listen to you, just as you have followed and read and listened to me. it’s a mutual give and take.

until next time, dear friends, may the spirit of love + peace fill your souls. may each day be a new experience of birth for you, as you become more + more the person that you were created to be. and may you be inspired by all that is around you, seeking the sacred + holy in the most ordinary of moments.

“The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born when we die – although it is the tragic fate of most individuals to die before they are born.” ― Erich FrommThe Sane Society

onwards + upwards! xoxo

21 day mantra meditation // click –> here
yoga vision wheels of life chakra series // click –> here

supermoon saturday: a chance to sit with your truth

if you haven’t noticed, there’s a full moon rising out your window tonight. ok. it’s not a fully, full moon. but, it’s 99% full. so, pretty much full. the actual full moon happens on the 29th, sometime early/late in the morning. hopefully, it’s clear wherever you are, so you can head outside or peek out your window and gaze at this big, beautiful, special moon.

it’s super special actually. because it’s a supermoon. and that actually is a thing.

a supermoon is when the moon is super close to the earth, at its closest, and therefore looks much larger than other times of the year. amazingly, we have a supermoon this month, next month, and in october. three in a row. now, that’s crazy talk. 

so, have you been feeling crazy lately? restless? emotional? tired? off balance? energized? inspired? confused?

i think i’ve covered all of them lately. with the ending of summer, the beginning of routines, and lots of plans in my mind, in addition to the pull of the need to think practically, i have been, once again, sleeping like a crazy person. up every single night at 3:30 am. sometimes i lay awake until the sun comes up. other times i just pet the cat and go straight back to sleep.

one thing is for sure, there is a ton of energy all around me and inside me. and what other reason than because it’s a supermoon, right? hehe. i mean, just think about all that energy and how the moon affects and changes the tides. surely it has to affect us too…

well, i believe that it does. and even if you don’t believe in any of that hippie dippy magical stuff, the moon does affect us. the energy is present in us, just as it is in the waves of the sea. and anytime mother nature does something special, it’s a great time to slow down and ponder life a little.

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this supermoon is a deep, intense one that can help me, and you, face these last 4 months of 2015. for the past 8 months life has been moving on for us. things have changed, we have changed. and right now, we have a chance to pause. like, when you’re on a roadtrip and need to get off at an exit for a rest stop. to refuel, reevaluate, and pull out that old map again.

that’s what this moon is urging us to do. to just pull over for a minute and reassess our journey so far. to make sure we are on the right road. headed where we want to be headed.

think back to the beginning of 2015. what were your dreams? what was your vision? how did you hope that this year would go? what steps have you taken in your 2015 journey so far? what have you seen, done, experienced as you sped down the 2015 highway?

now, think about this with me: does today’s reality match up with what you remember? it might not. and that’s ok. perhaps we have changed our course, or its been changed for us unexpectedly. perhaps we are precisely where we wanted to be, and it’s just to push onward.

whatever you discover, embrace it. and let yourself relax in the fact that, no matter what, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

don’t freak out, friends. if things don’t seem like you thought they would seem, it doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong track. it just means that with the intense energy of this moon, we can receive the courage to be truthful with ourselves. to really look at where we are and evaluate the path that we have chosen these past months.

and here’s the brave question put before us: are our heads + hearts in alignment with our dreams + goals?

if we feel that we are aligned, if we are living authentically to that which our souls call us to be, then right now as we gaze at the big moon in the sky, we may fall deeper in love with our lives and our journeys.

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this is exactly where i am right now. it actually frightens me to say that, but it’s true. somehow, the journey i have been on this year has led me to a place where i am embracing those things that i am called to be + do. and i am being + doing it. things are changing – and i’m freaked out and scared, but i know that it is right. it is time for me to grow and expand and trust.

however, if we have been neglecting our intuition and not following our soul’s purpose, then we will be feeling a bit of anxiety and turmoil right now. the moon is bringing all of this to light, with her intense power this weekend, but it’s just the push that we may need to make a few adjustments and changes and get back on the road that we know we want to travel on. that big ole moon is inspiring us to follow our hearts + our souls.

what this supermoon is giving us is a chance to sit with our truth. and if we still aren’t sure of that truth, which totally fine, by the way, then it is our opportunity to begin to discover it. and then to begin that journey of making our entire life all about living that truth.

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friends, i guarantee that we have the power we need to live our truth. we are already empowered with all that we need in order to do just that. it’s within us. and discovering it, setting it free, learning to live from our souls, well, that’s our life’s purpose. it’s all about learning to live more mindful, about being more aware, conscious, and alive.

and doesn’t that great big moon out there make you feel more alive?

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tonight and tomorrow night, let’s spend a few moments getting in touch with our inner power and wisdom. let’s use this weekend to help us see where we really are. to feel our truth and courageously step out on the next part of our journey. it’s time to use all that we know deep within our souls to make our life the life that we have always dreamed of. we’ve only got this one life, you know. so, we’d better make it count.

breathe deep. let the moon waves flow over you. stop for a minute and just be. remember, this supermoon is simply a rest stop on our life-long journey of transformation, discovery, exploration, love, freedom,  and peace.

in a few days, rested, refreshed, and re-energized, let’s get back on the road again. blasting our way through, empowered + inspired, embracing the life that we are truly called to live.

onwards + upwards! xoxo