trees-and-flowers

when you are in need of a hero

you know, there are days when we feel strong and courageous, like we can take on the whole world. and there are days when we feel practically helpless, exhausted, and disheartened.

i, for one, am feeling the first right now. i feel peaceful and empowered. but i feel that even in the midst of uncertainty and confusion.

i ran across a quote the other day, i don’t know who said it, but it spoke to me. it was like a big fat kick in the ass, a reminder, a little pep talk, and a great motivator. and i think it’s appropriate no matter how we are feeling in any given moment. if we feel weak, then this quote reminds us that we are in control. that we have tons of power that we can tap into. and, if we feel strong, then this quote just pushes us to reach even higher. to go even farther.

ultimately, it’s just about claiming our lives as our own. taking control and believing in who we are and who we want to become.

so, friends, here’s your little pep for thursday:

hero-quote

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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5 things to do while you’re sitting in your sh*t

“Disappointment, without anger, is the mark of an old soul. Not being disappointed, Liz, is the mark of a really old soul. And trusting life so thoroughly that every step on its path is valued more than where it was supposed to take you, is the mark of eternal youth.”

You hottie,
The Universe (14 may 2015)

yesterday i got a rejection email following up on an interview i had aw week or so ago. they said it was stiff competition between me and another person. i felt pretty good about the job. or did i? i don’t know these days. it’s hard to not let my desperation to find a job and make money not override my sense of who i am and how i want to live my life. in any case. it feels sucky that they decided to go with the other person.

now, i can choose to focus on the things that go wrong, or scare me, or make me wake up in the middle of the night and fill my head with anxiety, or bring me down.

or, i can choose to focus on things that make me feel good. whole. complete. and down right ok with everything, choosing to trust that things will work out.

by focusing on the good, i am not eliminating or running away from the bad. nope. i still feel it all. and i let myself feel it for a bit.

my brother likes to call it “sitting with it.”

you sit with your shit. just let it be. just let yourself cry. or curl up into a ball. let yourself have a bad day, a day when you feel off. let yourself unwind. admit to yourself how things really are. all of which i did last night and this morning.

and while you’re sitting with it, might i suggest a few things to help you get through. just so you know, friends, these are 5 things i’ve done this week. 5 things that have reminded me to smile + to breathe. even though i’ve not been feeling tip top. even though disappointment + stress are following me around. still, these 5 things, have helped me to maintain as much balance as possible.

1. express yourself (talk. express what you are feeling, or not. just get some positive people around you.)

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wedding planning with lina’s brother + his fianceé. lina + i are the reception emcees!

2. get inspired (listen to music, play music, read, create art, write, look at art, take some photos, cook/bake)

kitchen-work

my work space for the past 2 weeks: writing my book always refocuses me.

dinner

made a yummy dinner!

3. watch something on netflix/tv (just veg for a little bit)

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a glass of wine + some tv. yesssss.

4. go inside (and by inside, i mean, inside your self. light some candles + meditate.)

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my little sitting place for morning meditations.

5. go outside (get moving. exercise. change your environment. fill your wild soul with some nature.)

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a walk by the river in downtown uppsala

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the sun was shining, so i had to get out + walk in my neighborhood.


there is a fine line, though, i think between letting ourselves just sit with it, and getting stuck.

there is nothing wrong with redirecting our attention. you know, avoidance. by going to exercise, or surrounding ourselves with someone who lifts our spirits, or obsessing over beautiful things on pinterest, or watching our favorite netflix series, or just sleeping. anything that calms us down and gives us a little sense of peace of mind for a little bit is a good thing.

but there’s a deeper way of “sitting with it”. once we’ve gone away from the pain and disappointment for a bit, then i believe it’s time to deal with it. and by that, i mean to reflect on it, analyze, ponder, question, and yes, feel whatever feelings bubble up. the point is to understand what is going on and why we are feeling this way. and, of course, this can be done alone or with someone else. i personally prefer a little of both. but, it needs to be done.  it is a necessary part of moving on.

then, it’s time to stand up again.

there comes a time when we just need to choose to say that we are done with this shit for now. and that’s when the action starts. that’s when everything changes. that’s when we begin to move on.

sitting with it is healthy i think. it means that we admit that things are not great. and that we don’t run away from those feelings and thoughts of things being not great. but, sitting with it means that we also take an active role in making it better. we don’t just sit there, like a lump on a log, crying “poor me!”. we admit that we feel that way, and we don’t judge those feelings, but then we begin to wonder why we feel that way and what we can do to move past those feelings.

so, whenever you feel like crap and you’re having a day from hell. admit it. feel it. and don’t feel bad about it. redirect yourself towards something that you enjoy, something that makes you feel calm. and then, do the work to help you get yourself out of the shit. figure stuff out and know that you will not feel like this forever.

and then, stand up, brush yourself off, and start moving forward again.

sending you lots of love + courage + strength.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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Why I don’t care about being happy

it just doesn’t matter to me. being happy.

i mean, there are happy moments. and i love happy moments. but, that is not what i am really after. that’s too shallow of a goal. what i am after is much deeper. what i want is lifelong.

what i am after is peace.

and, for me, peace is something that comes from within.

of course, we mean peace when we talk about the absence of war or conflict. and, of course, this is highly important to me, as a self-avowed pacifist. but, we cannot have peace among people, nations, governments, societies… without first creating peace within. we can try, and we can work hard to make peace happen, but true peace begins in our souls. it begins in the deepest part of ourselves. and it is there already, inside of you. i promise. within that inner peaceful place inside us, there is the spirit that unites us all. that’s why i know that, if and when, we tap into our own inner peace, then we will automatically create peace in the world.

so, our jobs first and foremost as human beings sharing this earth together? to discover and live from our own inner peace. that’s where we begin.

and when we are aligned with our inner peace, then happiness just doesn’t matter.

why, you wonder? because happiness comes and goes, and is dependent on things that are outside of us, external factors.

are we happy because of what we have or where we live? do we wish for more, thinking that it will make us happy? what if it’s raining for a week, does that make us sad? what if we feel trapped where we live, or stuck in a rut? are we then completely unhappy? will owning more clothes make us happy? will moving to another city finally make us happy? does travel fill us up and make us feel happy? what if we can’t travel?  what if everything disappeared?  would we then be completely depressed and give up?

of course all of these things affect our moods. having things is fun. being happy is fun. losing things, disappointment, and suffering are not fun.  some things in life are devastating, and some things make us feel like the king of the world. but, if we base our happiness on what happens to us, then we will surely be disappointed. we will be be bouncing back and forth between good days and bad days. because life sucks. it’s tough. there is suffering, and injustice, and violence. and it’s all overwhelming. and we feel helpless.

so, if i am basing my happiness in life on my job, other people, experiences, travel, money, success, my family, health, then i am not going to be happy all of the time. period. fact of life.

when things are not going my way, then i am going to feel like i am out of control. or i am going to pretend that i am happy. that’s even worse. lying to myself and everyone else. living a life that looks good, but feels empty. all because i don’t want to feel the pain or face the truth.

but, what i am saying, and it is something that is hard to grasp onto, is that peace is way deeper than our circumstances. peace cares what is happening around us, but stays calm. because the main thing is happening within us. and, when we can sit quietly in the presence of our souls, then life may be swirling and tossing us about like a ship on the sea, but we remain faithful, steadfast, hopeful. because, ultimately, we know that we are ok. because we are not all of those things happening to us. because we are more than all of the things that define us or make us happy or unhappy. we are the spirit that lies deep within us. we are strong, unmovable, attached, grounded, yet flexible and able to go with the flow.

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the bottom line, in my opinion (and experience), is that inner peace is living a life in balance. it is not all puppies and rainbows and sunny days. but it is maturity and wisdom, acknowledging, feeling, and choosing to keep on keeping on, to move onwards and upwards.

and inner peace brings the empowerment needed to do just that. 

but, inner peace only comes when we take the time to be still and silent. it begins with simply being. with getting in touch with our selves, discovering who we are, listening to our heart, letting our passions come to light, breathing, being mindful and aware.

and as we begin to live a life of awareness, then we feel the balance occurring. we feel connected. grounded. we feel… at peace.

the longer and more often that we take the time to just be, the more peace that we feel. the more that we feel that we will be ok no matter what comes our way, then the more empowered we feel to follow those dreams, whatever crazy risks they may involve.

so, ultimately, the more time spent being, creating more and more space for peace in our lives, then the more we actually end up doing. and, everything that we do is then infused with deep meaning + purpose. here is where we live out our dreams and make our unique mark in this world. here is where we take all that we are and let our lives be used for the greater good. but, we don’t lose ourselves, because we stay grounded. we always return, again and again, day after day, to the simple task of being. and, we let life and work and dreams unfold.

inner peace is powerful. it is trust. it is action. it is simplicity. it is living life fully and authentically as we are. and, most importantly, it is a lifelong journey. a constant balancing, aligning, adjusting, and growing. but, once we tap into a life lived with inner peace as the highest value, then the journey, no matter where it takes us, is one that we accept, not passively, but in a more go-with-the-flow-ish way. in the middle of our acceptance, we know that we have control over our lives. our decisions.

we have this one life. and it is up to us how we decide to live it. inner peace provides us the inspiration to live life the way that we wish.

so, do we chase happiness? or do we seek something deeper. do we want to live from moment to moment trying to feel good? always waiting for the next destination? or do we want to go on a journey, knowing that the process, the whole way, every single minute, is all part of finding our bliss?

nope. i don’t care about happiness. i choose peace.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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the icon

i promise that i won’t write about writing all of the time, but i’m just so damn excited. i have never felt so motivated. but, more than that, i have never made so much progress as i have in the past 3 days. i mean, i’m glued to my table pretty much. as much as i can be without forgetting the rest of life + other responsibilities.

i just wanted to share a quick little story about something that happened today.  well, to start with, two days ago i pulled out all of my journals again, going through them to make notes on the important things that have occurred in the past 7 years. things that i wanted to be sure to include in my story. when i opened up one of them, an icon card fell out of some random place in the middle of the journal. it landed on the table beside me.

i smiled and chuckled, knowing that i hadn’t seen it, or thought of it even, in years.

i remembered immediately where i got this little icon card of jesus. it was in athens, greece. in 2007. it was in a little gift shop where orthodox priests worked during the day, just outside of a church. i remember standing in there, completely in awe of everything around me. i so wanted to buy a greek bible, but i had not taken greek, so i decided not to make that purchase. but, i was definitely going to stock up on a little icon symbolism. i had already bought a little wooden icon that had peter on it. and a powerful postcard with the virgin mary on it. i suppose i decided that it was time to buy a jesus symbol.

so, i bought this card.

jesus-icon

my little jesus icon card has been on the table, shuffled + mixed about with all of my notecards, since it fell out of my journal two days ago. but, today, as i sat down to begin working, i noticed it, and i made the connection that i bought this card in athens, greece, right at the time that everything began to change for me. i dare say that this trip was the beginning of my journey to peace.

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so, this morning, as i sipped on my first cup of coffee while standing at the window, i decided that this card would be a sort of muse for me. my inspiration. a reminder of my journey. therefore, wherever i go, wherever i work on this story of mine, i will carry the card with me. it will lay beside my computer. close by, watching over, as i write and write and write. as i journey back in my mind and in my memory, as i reflect on all that i have felt and learned, as i discover and uncover new truths.

my little jesus icon card. a symbol of my journey. my muse.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

* the meaning of the icon. first of all, icons were used art used to teach . the images told the meditators something about the christian faith. everything is symbolic in icons. in my icon, called jesus the pantocrator (greek for “almighty”) jesus is surrounded by a halo, a pretty universal symbol for holiness. in the halo are three greek letters,  ώ Ό Ν (omega, omicron, nu) meaning “the being” or “he who is”. the red and green garments are symbols of divinity and humanity, referring to the nature of the belief of jesus christ as both fully human and fully divine. his fingers are spelling out the trinity: the father, son and holy spirit. a belief of the three different manifestations of the divine. and the book symbolizes that jesus is a teacher.

for many protestant christians, icons are not used. people get all freaked out and think that if you look at an icon, you are worshipping the icon instead of who or what it represents. poppy cock, i believe. i have used icons (from all religions, of course) for years. i even taught about them when i worked in a protestant christian church. scandal! 

they are an incredible way to meditate. to simply hold your gaze onto the image and let it speak to you. there is no need to know what it all means. just to let it speak is powerful. knowing what it means just makes it all the richer of an experience. 

think of it like watching a sunset. gazing at it in awe. letting whatever feelings and thoughts come to mind. just letting yourself go… just being in the present moment. 

now you understand how i see icons. how they can speak to me. how, my little jesus icon spoke to me again today. 

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the lesson of the arrow

if i am honest with you, then lately i feel as if i have been completely unfocused. and, by lately, i mean about a year and a half. yes, i have been doing things that i have loved and living from my soul: writing, photography, blogging. and i have been doing it all with the hopes of making it my full-time way of making money. though, i haven’t been successful in that, nor have i known exactly how to make that happen.

the bottom line is, i have been doing things i love, but it feels like it has been without a clear focus.

what i have been lacking is a sense of purpose. that underlying, foundational thing that connects and gives meaning to everything i do. something that ties it all together. i haven’t felt that with me in a while… because everything i have been doing, i have been doing and enjoying and exploring and discovering, and yet, there has been a certain sense of emptiness under it all. i want my life to be a connected journey. not just flipping from one fun thing to the next without purpose.

i am not sure if i am explaining myself well, or if this makes any sense to you, but it is exactly how i have felt since moving to the states in the summer of 2013. it’s like being a little lost and unattached. like experiencing and trying so much, that i am going in a thousand different (fun) directions.

what i need is a theme.

you know, like on a blog, or in a paper that you have to write. what is that one thread, that universal thing that runs through everything that you write in that paper? or what is the image or focus that you want to have on your blog that determines your layout, design, colors, and content? i need something like that.

so, i’ve been bee-bopping around in life, exploring the things that i love, and now that i am in sweden it has become clear to me that i have been missing my thread, that somewhere i forgot my truth, even if i have been living it.

now, the thing is, i haven’t actually lost my thread or my theme or my truth. i just have ignored or forgotten it. it’s been there all along. and, as i perused through my journal recently and looked back over the past year and half, i began to see my truth, that red thread, weaving itself in and out of everything that i do and am.

and you know how i found my way back to my truth? my purpose? my “thing”? through updating my resume/cv, of all things. 

yep, in that most mundane and boring chore, i translated my resume from swedish to english, and thought about the fact that i seem to make myself fit into every job that i am applying for, instead of letting me be the center. and i realized that i need to shift my focus. to say “this is who i am and what i have to offer” instead of ” you have this to offer and i am going to prove to you that i can do this.” it’s really hard to explain. but, it returns the power to myself, as the one who will seek out something that matches who i am, instead of letting all of the employers out there have all of the power and i’m just little old me trying to squeeze myself into their place.

anyway, as i worked on my resume, i spontaneously decided to add a little introduction to the top of it. only 3-4 sentences. just an opening, stating my mission basically. i had no idea what i was going to say, but just clicked away on the computer keys and out popped my very own purpose statement – complete with a red thread that has run all through my life. and it felt suddenly like everything was connected. that even the past year and half made sense to me, and i saw clearly, once again, the thread that has been running through my life from the beginning. i just had to be reminded of it all.

it’s my destiny. my calling. my personal legend.

so, what this all means to me is that i feel calm inside. way calmer than i have in a long time. especially since moving. this process of rediscovering my truth has given me focus and clarity. it’s made me feel like i haven’t lost touch with who i am, and who i have been, but i have only evolved.

and now it’s time to spring forward. but, with a very grounded, clear sense of purpose.

and that purpose affects everything that i do. including this website. as i get a clearer sense of how i might be of use in the world at this point in my life, i have this deep feeling that i want to lay down belovelive. that i want to move forward from it. what that means or how that looks, i have no idea. but, i will just sit with those feelings and see what comes of it. just like i will see what comes of my active job search. trusting that everything will be grounded in my sense of purpose… my desire to inspire + educate.

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like a arrow , pulled taught, and ready to be thrust forward, i, too, am aimed + focused + ready to be let loose.

you know, many nature-loving spiritual traditions see the drawing and releasing of an arrow is a spiritual, ritualistic practice. the bow, from which the arrow is released is the place where dreams, thoughts, and creativity gathers. it is where we harness our potential by filling our quiver with all of our talent, knowledge and passion. and, you can guess, what the releasing of the arrow indicates: the perfectly aimed, focused release of all of those goals, dreams, creativity, and purpose towards its target. it is the archer’s will being released.

some people went a step further and marked their arrowheads with their intentions. the ancient celts of ireland wrote spells, and the sioux indians painted symbolic geometric designs on theirs.

the symbol of the arrow is something powerful for me right now. it gets at the heart how i feel. intent, determined, focused. but, there is more to it than just releasing and hitting the target.

there is work to be done with the drawing of the arrow too. it’s the focus that is in pulling the arrow back. this must be a calm act. a place where we quietly, intentionally draw all of our creative +intellectual inspiration together. it requires patience, cunning wit, intuition, openness, and a completely relaxed, yet steady,  state of being.

and then, we breathe deeply + release our arrow. and our spirit takes flight towards its goal.

happy weekend, lovely people! draw your arrow back and gather all of your thoughts and dreams and desires, and then let your soul soar straight to it’s goal!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

the arrows in my photo are two cherokee indian arrows that my love and i bought in the great smoky mountains national park in north carolina. they’re the real shit!