Summer is settling in now. And I am slowing down. Majorly. Easing into summer is so much better for me than an abrupt switch from a full-speed ahead work week to full-on vacation mode. Instead, slowly moving from busy-ness, stress, and intensity towards a calm, relaxing few weeks at work to 5 weeks of vacation is the perfect step-down balance for me. It’s actually like stretching out the vacation season over even more weeks than usual.

This is the second summer that I have scheduled my actual vacation time towards the end of the summer, and that allows me to work pretty much alone for 2 or 3 weeks, giving me that “ease into summer” feeling.

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In Sweden, the law states that all people are to receive 5 weeks vacation each year. To be totally clear, there are some exceptions; but it is mostly connected to being on disability part time + working part-time. For instance, someone can be on disability/absent from work for 50% of their full-time job this past year, and therefore only receive 50% of his or her vacation time = 3 weeks.

But, in general, everyone has at least 5 weeks vacation. No matter where you work. And, of course, some companies/businesses add a week or 2 to that! For real. This all means that most everyone chooses to lump a bunch of weeks together in the summer and get about a month off to really relax and recharge. In addition, there is usually a week or so left over to use at other times of the year…. mostly for a trip to someplace warm in the cold, rainy autumn or the dark, frosty winter.

In any case, I’ve got 5 weeks off – soon! And, as of today, I’ve only got 4 days of work left until those 5 weeks begin! But, like I said above, I’ve really been easing into the summer vibes for a few weeks now. It all started with the end of the school year for the students, a few very warm + sunny days, teacher workdays + meetings, a bunch of Swedish holidays giving me random days off + long weekends, including Midsummer celebrations, and a week of working in my office all by myself (most people coordinate the beginning of the vacation with Midsummer – I choose to work a few weeks longer). So, I’ve been working throughout all of June, but it’s been like a step closer to summer vacation with each passing day.

With this coming week being the last week before my vacation begins, I’m facing a few more days of relaxed planning, organizing, preparing for the beginning of school in August. Of course, I’m also gonna be taking it super easy as I work… arriving at 8:30 instead of 8:00, listening to music all day, taking coffee breaks as I wish, and doing everything at my own pace, with no interruptions. Ahhhhh.

But enough about the week ahead. Let’s look back on the week that has just passed, though my photos + music. Remember, every day I add a new song inspired by something connected to that day in one way or another. And now, let’s see what inspired me over the past 7 days:

Welcome to the songs for week 26:

Day 177: Monday 26 June  // Monday – Matt Corby

I was off on Monday (part of the long Midsummer holiday), so I chose a song that was just a cozy Monday song. We finished off the holiday weekend with pizza + a movie at our friend’s home. And, yep. That’s my love being all bad ass on her longboard as we made our way to pick up the pizza.

Day 178: Tuesday 27 June  // All Is Well – Austin Basham

Back to work. I sat in my office all day – minus my breaks, I mean. Every now and then I chatted with the principal + assistant principal, who were also working last week. But, for the most part, I kept to myself. Enjoying my introverted, contemplative work. And, later that night, just before I headed to bed, I did a little backyard wandering in the 11pm sunset.

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Day 179: Wednesday 28 June  // No Shortcuts – Heather Maloney, Darlingside

I started my day quite inspired. Right now, I am reading the book shown below, and it really gets me thinking. Or connects with me somehow. The thing is, I’ve had this book for like 15 years maybe. At least 10. It’s pretty tiny, but I haven’t read it until now. I’ve carried it around to every home that I’ve had, as one of my “core books” simply based on the author (a modern mystic hero of mine) and the title (I am a self-proclaimed contemplative). I’ve clearly started it a few times, but never made it past the forward + introduction, as those are the only pages that have old scribbling and underlinings.

But now, I am more than halfway through. It’s very cerebral and theological, yet practical. It’s more of a description of meditation (what I call prayer), instead of a how-to book. And the chapters are usually 4 pages long…. perfect for early morning readings. And, on this Wednesday, I read and marked and noted and thought a lot. Inspired by the idea of meditation being not at act that we do, but a way we live our life. And little did I know how I would see those thoughts in action in just a few hours…

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Sometime in the afternoon, I decided that I needed to get outside. So, I got up from my desk, peeked into the principal’s office, and let her know that I was going for a short walk to get some fresh air and enjoy the sunshine – these are things that Swedes prioritize and understand, because Swedes live so close to nature.

I walked the one block to the river and plopped down on a bench. A couple sat down near me, and soon, an older lady joined our little bench gang, sitting between us. I’m not sure if she talked to the couple, as I was busy gazing up at the sun and soaking up the rays.

After a while, the couple left + a few minutes after that, the lady turned to me and, in Swedish, asked me if I had ever thought about the kingdom of God. Now, let’s be clear. this kind of stuff pretty much never happens in Sweden. Like. Never. Religion and faith are not talked about, not to mention there are not many believers in general (if you compare with the States).

Being a theologian, I responded that, yes, I had indeed thought about the kingdom of God. What ensued then, was a long, discussion + story-telling session about that kingdom, how God loves everyone, how amazing life truly is, that we are all created to love, and that love is the most important thing in the world.

Now, this sweet woman + I did not see eye to eye on everything. She had a very strong belief in Jesus being the only way to God (I disagree with that), and yet, as she discussed God’s love for everyone, it seemed that that trumped anyone deciding to follow Jesus. That understanding + sharing love is the heart of what life is all about. Ultimately, all she wanted to do was share her story of how she + her late husband shared their faith, and that their faith in God and in love is what gave them (and now her) a foundation to spread a message of love wherever she went.

After she discovered that I had worked as a pastor/minister in churches, she asked me what church I belonged to, and I responded that I didn’t belong to any. I think that was the first time I said that out loud. It felt good. And freeing. And I didn’t feel guilt. I felt true to myself, authentic in claiming my own sense of spirituality + faith.

The woman then spoke very passionately with me about how I had been called out of the church, and that what I do with my life is just as much ministry, if not more sometimes (her opinion), than working in a church. And we agreed, once again, that it’s all about love.

So, God’s kingdom? It’s not some far away off time or place. No, the little lady + I decided. It’s right here and right now. Wherever there is love. Especially between strangers.

Why the song “Shortcuts” then? Because this world is tough. And, if we really want to get where we are going, if we really want to live life to the fullest, and find love; then we have to journey on. We have to keep searching by being aware. We have to explore, dare to meet each other, learn more, open up our minds + hearts. What we are to do is to keep on keeping on… never giving up. It’s not necessary to skip over things, or take any shortcuts, to find the kingdom of God. Instead, it’s well worth it to take the long way, because the kingdom of God (enlightenment, divinity, oneness, love) is all along the way. It is the way.

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Day 180: Thursday 29 June  // Shores Of Galilee – Shinyribs

Last day of work this week. And it felt like summer. I came home a little bit early. My love had her office’s summer party during the afternoon/night, so I had an evening to myself. I grabbed wine and sat in the backyard. I made enchiladas for dinner. And I went on a walk to my favorite nearby little spot. Along the way, my brother sent me this song. We sometimes do that with each other. Send songs + music. I love that about us.

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Day 181: Friday 30 June  // I Am Mine (Acoustic) – Beta Radio

Friday I worked at the kitchen table for hours. Writing, blogging, editing photos. Drinking coffee. And, then, later in the day, I met my friend, Micke, for dinner at a local pub. We sat for hours… talking politics (he and I always talk politics), movies, games, life, summer plans. Just enjoying each others’ company.

On the way home, the sunset was spectacular and I dreamed about going to a new rooftop bar in Uppsala to watch the sunset. Little did I know that, as I was walking home with my friend, Lina would text me and ask me if I wanted to meet her + her friend (they’d been having a girl’s wine night) at that rooftop bar. Magic!

I met them there at 10pm. We went up, ordered drinks, and watched the sunset. It was pure magic. So breathtaking that I took a shitload of photos and am now in the process of creating a whole post just about this rooftop bar. Hehe.

The song today is all about me feeling this incredible feeling of embracing myself. Of owning my life. And this version of the song was released today, so I thought it’d be a perfect fit.

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Day 182: Saturday 01 July  // Take On Me – Kygo Remix – a-ha

Ummm. Full disclosure. Kind of a hangover day. Not a real hangover. But, I didn’t feel tip top. I slept till 9 (unheard of!) and stayed in bed until noon or something like that. The rest of the day, I didn’t do much of anything at all. Neither did Lina. We felt the same. But, it was cozy + nice.

And, even though I didn’t move around much, I felt the energy of the new month. Of the second half of the year – and it felt like a new beginning. Like I could take on anything that comes my way. And, that’s why I chose this old 80s classic remixed into a summery sounding battle cry. It felt like a perfect little kick ass, lots of energy, things to do, ready to begin again anthem.

Spiritually I felt kick ass. Physically I felt like this:

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Day 183: Sunday 02 July  // Into The Mystic – Van Morrison

When I woke this morning, I glanced at the thermometer outside my kitchen window. It was warm! Really warm for 9am. Like 22C/68F! So, I made my coffee, grabbed my contemplative book, and headed out to the backyard. It was the perfect Sunday morning. Sunshine. Birds chirping. My neighbor’s humming + singing wafting through her open windows. A slight breeze. It was just pure summer wonderfulness.

I sat + read + thought + even shed a few, feeling overwhelmed tears. Sometimes I just feel tapped into my soul. And the soul of all of creation. Connected. Aligned.

And that’s my week. It was pretty spectacular. How was your week? Did anything happen to inspire you in any way? What plans do you have coming up? I’d love to hear how you are doing, so leave me a comment or contact me on social media. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to  subscribe to the playlist → here.

Happy Sunday, lovelies! xoxo. liz.