i celebrated the fourth of july with a few fellow americans in sweden for the first time this year. fun! of course, i have celebrated every year one way or another… last year was extra special. anyway, it was a fun evening last night, so i thought i’d give you a little peek into our celebrations! hoping all you americans had a happy 4th! warning: there are more american flags than one should have around them at any given time…
hi friends! long time, no post… huh? geez, i have missed y’all. i’ve missed writing and posting, but i have been super busy the past 4ish days. and i do believe that the busy-ness is only getting started.
this past weekend i was in the woods with the teenagers i work with from friday until sunday. oh, my nature soul was soooo very happy. the weather was quite beautiful as well. sunshine. warmth. and even a bit of cozy rain one of the evenings. we played games, had some little chat hours (i had 3 little workshops on challenging yourself, taking risks, and believing in yourself), did some BBQ-ing, watched a movie, laughed, hung out by a lake, and just enjoyed being together.
on sunday, we left the camp in the morning and headed to the church. during the morning service, i got to serve communion (always a great, powerful honor), lead the service, recognize some of the youth, and then there was a moment that the congregation said their official “goodbye” to me (though i work until july 15, but people are gone from regular life after midsummer – june 21). it was emotional standing there with those i had worked with standing behind & around me. gaaahhh. as much as i have left places, it never ever gets easier. but, it always makes me feel grateful, amazed, and so overwhelmed to have had the experiences i have had.
as i stood there, listening to the chairperson talk, feeling the people around me, i thought about the craziness that my life has been. the amazing craziness. to get to move to sweden. learn a new language. get a job. in something i am educated for. work with really good people. and have a chance to be me, even though i am in another country. it was in that moment that i felt i needed to pinch myself, to know that i was actually this little american girl from north carolina, with big dreams and hopes, who has had an opportunity to live them out. to follow them, and watch them come true.
the only advice i have for all of you who have even the tiniest dream is to chase it! chase that soul-filling, mind-blowing, seemingly impossible dream to the ends of the earth if you have to. and be patient. sometimes it takes a while for dreams to materialize. for me, it took 15 years to get here. but, it was so worth the ride. trust the universe. trust god. and trust in yourself.
after my work day (work weekend i guess) at church, i rushed home, jumped in the shower (because ewwwww… i had been camping for some days), and headed for the train station. yep. within a couple of hours of leaving the woods, i was on a train headed to the big city.
my love and i were off to stockholm sunday evening – monday evening. lina had an appointment at the american embassy…. to determine if she would qualify for a visa! sunday night we stayed with a friend, and since the weather was summer-like, we walked to a harbor area with a rock mountain overlooking the water and had a BBQ. it was more perfect than perfect. truly.
monday morning came, and the sun was still shining. we ate breakfast on a balcony and then headed downtown to get lina to the embassy ontime. it was a nerve-racking time, not knowing how things would turn out. things are quite complicated/weird with us… since we are 2 women, married, and bi-national. though lina was applying for a student visa and not a green card (not possible thanks to DOMA and same-sex discrimination), there was still a chance they’d question things. but…. everything went perfectly! and she was approved!
while she was in the embassy (i could not enter and be with her), i walked. and walked. and walked. and like a tourist, i took pictures every 10 feet. it was such a great morning for me, and i felt guilty for having such a peaceful time while lina was going through an american visa interview.
after celebrating the end of the visa process together at an american restaurant in stockholm, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering, shopping, and just soaking up the beauty of the city built on islands. then, it was an early train back home and a cozy landing into my own bed after 3 nights away.
all in all, an intensive, but unbelievably amazing weekend! i took tons of photos, of course, which i will post in a few upcoming posts. but, for now, i’ll leave you. we are in 100% moving mode in our little home. time to get down to business. woo hoo!
sending you peace and love.
in celebration of the news that lina and i have gotten an apartment in asheville (screams of joy & delight here!!! eeeeee!!!), AND in honor of the fact that i’m moving back to my home state to live in said amazing apartment in asheville, AND in shock of the coincidence that i found the following post of 38 signs you are from north carolina on the day after we got our apartment in the 38th year of my life, when i return to the amazing state of northcarolina, i present to you…
why i will always be a north carolina girl no matter where i live and 38 ways you can tell you are a fellow NC-ian!
1. You have very strong feelings about Duke, UNC, and NC State.
it doesn’t matter if you went to any of the above schools, you still have an allegiance to one. perhaps an unhealthy one. regardless, nothing fires you up quite like college basketball in north carolina. all three universities within 30 minutes of each other, the rivalry is intense. and it goes back generations in families. my family… Duke and State. most definitely anybody but Carolina. yuck!! but, don’t forget about Wake Forest, a little further down the road.
2. You know Cheerwine is not actually wine but one of the greatest carbonated beverages ever.
north carolina may be the birthplace of some other sodas, but none of them even come close to the awesomeness of cheerwine. for real.
3. You have gotten into fights about what style of barbecue is better.
4. You know it’s no fluke Asheville has been named Beer City for three consecutive years.
The craft beer scene is unreal. From the mountains, Highland Brewing, to the foothills, Catawba Valley Brewing, to the piedmont, NoDa Brewing, to the coastal plains, Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, and everything inbetween. If you like beer, North Carolina is where it is at.
have you read any of my posts before? how many times to i use this… for real.
6. You know tea is always better sweetened. and cold.
my grandma made the absolute best. i think she dumped a whole pound of sugar in the hot water filled with tea bags. it melted & brewed perfectly. then, she poured it in a big ole pitcher, filled it with ice, and put it in the fridge. after a while, time to sip on some tea and sit on the back porch watching birds & squirrels. awesome memories. if y’all come visit us, i’ll make you some sweet tea and we can sip it on our balcony. and you’ll love it. promise.
7. You have a favorite NASCAR driver.
ok. you may not even be a NASCAR fan, but that doesn’t stop you from knowing which driver you want to win the Coca Cola 600 every memorial day weekend. and there is no arguing about the late, great dale earnhart.
8. You’d happily live off of Bojangles’ biscuits.
or cinnamon twists, or boberry biscuits, or seasoned fries. (right, reynolds family?!) oh yeah. and spicy fried chicken. i mentioned just last night that my parents should eat breakfast at bojangles, when my mom stated she didn’t know where to eat as they drove across the state. i knew they were near an exit with a bojangles. yes, i know where they are all across the state. seriously.
9. You know the proper pronunciation of Appalachian.
it’s like nails on a chalkboard, y’all. it shouldn’t be this difficult.
think latch and not lay, App-a-LATCH-un and not App-a-LAY-shun.
deliciously yummy. and truly southern.
11. You still have beef with Ohio.
no matter what the argument is, wilber & orville wright were the first to fly. and that happened in north carolina. not ohio.
12. You know what it means to have a burger “all the way.”
chili. slaw. onions. mustard. perfection. right, dad?! dear me, i’m not gonna be a vegetarian anymore when i move back.
13. You know no holiday or big family dinner is complete without greens.
they must be cooked into oblivion with some sort of pig product. pig juices + collards = orgasmic. not my favorite dish. still, always there. the old folks really liked it. and you too, mom, but you’re not old.
14. You’re a closet “leaf looker”.
ok. i’m not in the closet about this. i admit it. i’m proud of it. i drive around all fall, with all the tourists, taking pictures of the same views and same places every single year. because it’s just that darn beautiful. you gotta make it to the mountains during the fall.
15. Seeing a Florida license plate drives you into fits of rage.
this is especially true if you lived in the western part of the state. it is a well-known fact that floridians want to drive on mountain roads, but they’re not skilled at it. not at all.
16. You watched the ACC Basketball Tournament in class.
the tournament started on a friday, and on that friday, every tv attached to the wall in a classroom was turned to the channel streaming the games. yeah. not much work got done that day. we might not have been able to swing getting time off to watch the tourny, but it didn’t matter because it was streaming in every classroom.
17. You had a snow day…without any snow.
it didn’t matter if there was snow on the ground or not. if there was a threat of snow, class was canceled. a bit of a contrast from my life here in sweden.
18. You have an appreciation (obsession) of bluegrass.
19. You’ve attended a pig pickin’ or two.
looks gross. sounds gross. but it is an amazing community, family kinda picnic. and a major southern tradition. organic. tribal. and native. good food. good people. yes, folks. i even had a pig-pickin’ as my rehearsal dinner for my first wedding. classy, maybe not. but, fun and awesome and real. hell yeah.
20. You like to brag about the North Carolina music scene. Cause it’s awesome.
and rightly so! from Ben Folds to Ryan Adams to James Taylor to Mount Moriah toLittle Brother to Randy Travis to all those bluegrass people to the NC Symphony to gospel music and so many others, you know north carolina has a very eclectic and amazing music scene.
21. You have friends who have done some cow tipping.
not that i ever did anything like that. really. i didn’t. but small town north carolina doesn’t have much else to do. not that that’s an excuse. and it is terrible and cruel. but, it is what it is. i can only do all i can to help people break this tradition. but, i think i’m alone on that quest.
22. The Lost Colony of eastern NC fascinates you.
sure, it might have been boring in your fourth-grade history class, but as you got older you realized how it had all the makings of a badass movie. mystery! intrigue! cryptic notes carved onto trees! possible cannibalism! vampires! it had it all. plus, it was the first english colony in the new world. yep. NC, first again. ohhh… can’t wait to visit the mysterious island again.
23. So does Blackbeard.
has there been anyone more badass than Blackbeard the Pirate (the inspiration for Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow)? nope! blackbeard (aka Edward Teach) was a feared pirate and a legitimate crazy person. blackbeard wasn’t originally a North Carolinian, but he settled down with his 14th wife (yes, i said 14th!) in bath, nc and died there — and by the way, his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, sunk off the coast of beaufort, where my family is from, so we claim him in all his crazy, bad-assness.
24. You’ve jumped off Jockey’s Ridge. (and i have).
it looks like the desert. and a giant mountain of never-ending sand. it doesn’t feel like you’re in nc, but it is the largest sand dune on the east coast and is the most visited park in the NC park system. cool, huh? it’s actually in the same area where the wright brothers had their first flight. and it is amazing to jump off the top, fall into the sand, and just keep rolling all the way down. lina, i promise to take you here!!
25. You have a favorite swimmin’ hole. (and i do).
pick your place. the coast. a creek in the piedmont. or a cold, mountain stream. my favorite spot used to be sliding rock, back when i was a kid, there was no one around. now, the park system has installed bathrooms, parking lots (how on the side of a mtn i don’t know), and there is a line to slide down the rock. so, now i prefer a little hidden place off of highway 215 or in cataloochee valley or in joyce kilmer forest.
26. You know the best time to visit the Grove Park Inn is during gingerbread house time.
this is crazy. i mean crazy. the talent. the goodies. the luxurious grove park inn. it is a must every single holiday season.
27. You know the importance of preferring dark blue over light blue (or vice versa, if you’re sick).
and one of the colors is waaaaay more beautiful than the other…
28. There was a plastic jug of moonshine in your freezer or on your back porch or in your barn.
and, you know, there’s nothing like drinking out of a mason jar. pure class all the way.
and the food? cheap. fast. greasy. tastes like grilled outdoors. deeelicious.
30. Christmas Town, USA, is the bane of your existence.
you’ve never been to McAdenville to see the christmas lights. it’s too big of a production and the thought of it gives you a panic attack. you have, however, been stuck on I-85 in traffic for hours behind people (probably with florida license plates) trying to get in the town to see it. christmas town, USA, is the worst and you don’t care if that makes you a scrooge.
instead, i just put up my own lights display. so there.
31. You were eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts before they got all popular and trendy.
been eating these for as long as i can remember. and, when my parents saw that “hot now” sign lit up, it didn’t (doesn’t) matter what time of day or night, we’d be stoppin’.
32. “Wagon Wheel” will never, ever get old.
ahhhh…. the feeling of home. proud. you’re also territorial about it and don’t appreciate non-north carolinians loving it so much. STOP SINGING THIS AT KARAOKE, GIRL FROM CALIFORNIA.
33. The sight of this brings you pure joy.
NBA basketball in NC… yeah!
34. And the sight of this reduces you to tears.
NFL football in NC. not. so. great. panthers, you just ain’t got it.
35. You had no idea hockey was an actual sport until this happened.
hockey? in north carolina? and we won it all?
36. Speaking of hurricanes, you’ve lived through one, or 2, or 3.
i can’t count the number of hurricanes i’ve experienced. at the coast. in the piedmont. in the mountains. the whole state is just sticking out into the atlantic waiting to be hit. but, being storm chasers and storm shoppers runs in my family. we know how to make it through a storm. and we love doing it. (luckily, we have never suffered any totally destructive damage).
37. You’ve figured out some creative ways to get around blue laws (when you can & cannot buy alcohol) and the lack of happy hour in the state.
no problem. we’ll make our own.
38. And even when the state disappoints you, you still ardently defend it.
in may 2012, north carolina passed a marriage amendment which stated that marriage was ONLY between a man and a woman, thereby writing discrimination into it’s state constitution. it’s sick. it’s disappointing. and scary. yet, i still have hope. there are tons of supporters of marriage equality. tons of fighters. and come two months from now, i’m joining the fight. right there on nc soil. marriage equality will come to nc. i believe it.
but, no matter what, i love nc. it’s home. it’s my history, including my history with my amazing wife. and now, it’s also our future. it is a beautiful, diverse, sometimes backwards, intelligent, natural, artsy, place to live. here’s to you, north carolina!
yep. i am proud to be a southern, north carolina girl.
* some of the photos and text taken/paraphrased from the buzz feed article. other photos from the internet & pinterest. and the rest of the photos by me!
today is a holiday in sweden. yep. a random tuesday. well, not so random. it’s the first day of may. MAY DAY! and over here, that means a day off to celebrate the beginning of spring (after a night filled with bonfires and bbq’s). it means other things too, like protests, etc., but i’m not gonna go into that. for most people around here, it’s a day to relax and get into the spring/summer spirit. for me, it has been a very calm, lazy day off spent soaking up the gorgeous swedish weather. fiiiiiiiinally. we’ve had a few days in a row of spectacular blue skies & warm sunshine & it feels like spring is here to stay. i won’t mention the fact that there is snow & rain in the weather forecast for the weekend…
here are some pics from the valborg (coming of spring) celebration last night. we met at a camp/retreat site about 20 minutes outside of the city. oh yeah. out in the country. so, yes, i had a little nature fix, which means that i had a chance to breathe really deep. dirt, birds, trees, mud, bugs, leaves. perfect.
game time! ok. i admit it. i do not like games. i always feel so stupid. i love to watch games, though. we were divided into 2 big groups in order to fairly pick out 2 people at a time to go against each other in a challenge. i kept slinking back behind as many people as possible in my group, trying to hide and disappear. please, don’t call my name, i repeated to myself. alas, my name was called at one point. curses. all i was trying to do was take a picture, then i heard, “Liz! come and make an airplane with a piece of paper, and then throw it as far as you can.” no problem, right? easy. the only problem was i could not remember how i used to make paper airplanes. the silly, sad thing that i made flew out and then directly back to me. hehe. see what i mean. me. stupid. well, at least i gave some others a laugh. ok. i laughed too. it wasn’t that bad.
tradition says that as the fire burns, someone gives a spring speech. so, here is a beloved member of the church sharing with us his thoughts on spring & the new life it brings to the world. we also sang traditional swedish spring songs. gotta love the traditions.
today lina & i opened up the windows, turned on some good music (reminds me. i wanna do a music post really soon!), and did some rearranging in our living room. nothing fancy. moved out some old art & put up some new. took down the curtains to give us even more light. and, voila! the room looks completely different. it’s amazing how just a few subtle changes can make a big difference. now every time lina & i walk through the living room, we make sure to the the other just how cool it looks in there now. if you ever get really bored, just move a few things around in your home. tips from me! hehe.
this afternoon we had a friend come by for fika, and then we couldn’t take it amy longer… it was time to get outside! so, we headed off to the park down the street, spread out a blanket, lay down, & chatted for an hour or so. the city was buzzing with people out & about. it was like a little bit of heaven.
so, it’s been a great day, and i believe i’ve caught spring fever. i don’t wanna do anything except be outside all the live long day.
hope you’ve had a great tuesday! peace.
word on the street is that Facebook has bought instagram for $1 billion. that is crazy. really crazy. and, while i love instagram (you know i’m addicted) and i tolerate Facebook (it helps me keep in contact with people. that’s all i really use it for.), and i am thankful that they exist, i can’t help but think about that $1 billion. couldn’t it be used to, say, feed an entire country? wipe out homelessness? improve education worldwide? it’s a lot of money. and i’m reminded that 20% of the people on earth have 80% of the resources – or something like that. it’s been a while since i checked that statistic, but you get what i mean. in any case, when a company, or a person, or a country has so much money, how is it that there are still so many problems that could actually be solved? i know, i know. it’s because our priorities are screwed up. big time.
with that said, i’m now going to post my pictures from my easter weekend… using instagram & connecting it to Facebook. i admit that by using these social media apps i am now a supporter of this mixed-up world of priorities. and i’m feeling extreme guilt, since i just wrote the above paragraph. at the same time, these pictures, this blog, give me a chance to share my life, my voice, and connect with people – which is also incredibly important. so, i remain cautiously, confusedly thankful for instagram & Facebook. oh, it’s such a gray world we live in. there is no black & white. there are no easy answers.
enough of that. let me share with you what is most important, in my opinion. people. time together. i missed my parents & my family very much this easter… it’s even harder not knowing exactly when i will be in the states again. i had some emotional moments over the weekend, but i tried to enjoy all that was around me as well. and i had plenty of people around me, i was most definitely not alone. so, i consider myself so blessed. it was a busy, crazy, but beautiful weekend… even in the midst of missing my family in the states. the bottom line, though, is… how lucky am i to have family in 2 countries, to have 2 places i call home, and to be surrounded by such love & support no matter where i am?
swedes do trick-or-treating during easter. yes, it’s true. actually it is the thursday before easter, but these kids came on saturday. two days late. girls & boys dress as witches and go from house to house to get easter candy. i’m not gonna go into the tradition & where it comes from (= i am too lazy to do all the research), but it’s a fun thing. these cute, little witches came to lina’s parents’ door to get candy & i snapped their picture.
on easter sunday, after church & lunch with some friends, we went to lina’s sister’s home for our nephew’s 10th birthday party. it was the same crowd that was at lina’s parents’ house the day before for the big easter dinner. lina’s sister, u, lives about 15 minutes outside of the city, so it’s always a great treat to see some nature when we visit.
at u’s house, we had the first bbq of the season!! it was cold out, there was still snow on the ground, but there’s no stopping swedes when it comes to grilling out in the spring. if it’s sunny, grilling is a must. i was super excited.
and then, finally, easter monday. the day to recover. it’s a holiday in sweden, and lina & i took full advantage of it. we sat on the couch all morning watching an alcatraz marathon (new series. love it.), then we met a friend at a cozy, old-fashioned cafe in the afternoon, and we topped off the day with a visit to our favorite pub with another friend. all in all, a great day off.
actually, all in all, a great weekend. hope that you all had a wonderful weekend too. now, back to the real world again.
joy & peace.
i decided that these next pictures were so important, they needed their own post! here are some snapshots of a good ole american holiday… celebrated the reynolds (my family name) way! of course, there are always fireworks on the 4th of july (USA’s independence day), across every state & in many cities. but the reynolds family isn’t satisfied with the local fireworks. hehe. for as long as i can remember, we have gotten our own to supplement, and boy, has that changed over the years. i can recall being a teenager, going to watch the fireworks, and then coming back to our rented house together & heading out onto the beach to hold 1 foot (33-ish cm) sparklers in our hands. and we loved it! so it became a tradition to have fireworks on the last day of our vacation together every year – even when we weren’t there during the 4th. well, this year, the 4th came right in the middle of our beach week, and we did it up right! my uncle and my cousin’s husband got our fireworks (wink wink), and this year we put on a show for the entire beach area around our house! it was amazing!!! so, we’ve graduated from little sparklers to real fireworks & super-long sparklers. it was fantastic! a tradition that we look forward to every year!! wonder what’s to come?!! happy 4th of july!!!
atlantic beach’s fireworks. they were a good show, but on the 3rd of july. why, you ask? i did too. but, the 4th was on a monday, so they wanted to have it on the weekend. understandable. plus, we still had our own fireworks for the real day!
stay tuned for part 4 tomorrow…. peace out!