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meditation mondays: i just realized i’ve been wandering in the desert too.

lent has begun. as last week passed, christians around the world began their six week reflective season before easter. a time of remembering who we are and where we are headed in this life. a time to look at the difficult life of the person of jesus, and see if there is anything that one can learn from the path that he walked while living on earth.

stay with me now. i’m not saying that any of you have to believe or not believe in jesus. but, i think the example of his life, as the example of siddhartha’s life + many more, have something to teach us.

lent is a time of darkness + sacrifice + wilderness. it’s like the darkest part of the night just before the sunrise. or the last snowfall just before flowers bloom. and it’s not a short period of time either.  in fact, it is 40 days long, mimicking the 40 days that jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his 3 year wandering ministry that lasted until he was killed. it was 40 days that he spent alone. doing what, i don’t know. 40 days is a long freaking time to be in the desert and all alone. but, whatever happened out there, it filled him and inspired him to follow the path that was ahead. he found courage, trust, compassion, and his purpose. i am guessing that he got to know his true self quite well after such an intense time alone. perhaps those 40 days were exactly what he needed in order to transform him – to give him the confidence to stay true to himself, all the way to his death.

i’m fairly certain that should any of us spend 40 days, or even a week, alone and in the middle of the wild, we’d be changed too. empowered. inspired. and proud that we’d been bad ass enough to make it on our own. life back in the real world most likely seem foreign to us in the beginning and we’d probably approach life completely differently. and, hopefully, we would have found a deep treasure of amazingness within us, propelling us to claim who we are and teaching us to never, ever be afraid of living out our calling, our dreams, and using our gifts. even the world, which had not changed at all while we had been away communing with nature, would not tempt us to let go of the power and peace we’d found out there on our own.


now, i’m not suggesting that we all pack a bag and hit the road for some place in the forest or the desert for 40 days. though that’d be pretty damn amazing (and scary!). no, we don’t have it that easy. we live in the world. we don’t have the luxury of going away for an extended period of time just to fight our demons and calm our soul. if we want transformation, if we want to change and become the person that we know we can be, then we have to do it right in the middle of the chaos that is everyday life. with all of its distractions and corruptions. not an easy feat.

but, still, something to consider. what about spending 40 days having anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes all alone? without music or tv or our smartphones. just us and perhaps a piece of paper + a pen. maybe we could find time to do that since we can’t fill up a backpack and traipse around the world. how would 30 minutes of yoga or writing or prayer every single day change us?

well, before you go getting all ready to hear me announce my little “lenten project” for 2015, prepare yourselves for a shock: i have no project. nope. nada. nothing. zippo. by ash wednesday last week, nothing had come to me. well, to be honest, i didn’t even think about it to try to see if something came to me. instead, i somehow just knew that this year i’d still be journeying during this season of lent. but, i’d be doing nothing. or, if i did, i didn’t know what that would be yet. and, i still don’t.

i mean, in some ways i feel like i’ve been on some 40 day journey for the past 7 years. from 2007 – 2014 all i did was wander in the desert. figuratively speaking, that is. it was a period of insane growth for me as a person. i got divorced, fell in love, got married. sold all my things. moved to denmark, to the states, to sweden, to the states, and to sweden again. i have had numerous types of jobs form teaching to preaching to writing to photographing. i almost lost my love to anorexia. i’ve explored every little facet of who i am, including falling in love with a woman, dealing with same-sex inequalities and discrimination, been rejected as a minister because of who i love, lost a calling, found the creative within me, merged my life with another, found new relationships with my family, learned a new language, been “big sister” again, taken care of everyone else, meditated every single day, written my story down, dabbled in other religions, gone to church, stopped going to church, traveled,  enjoyed good food + good wine and beer like never before, and reconnected with my love of nature. just to name a few things.

in short, i have experimented and learned and grown. and i have found a beautiful, grounded, connected base that i like to call my soul. now, this doesn’t at all mean that i am happy 100% of the time, or that i do not freak out or get confused or trust the universe. in no way is my life settled. in no way is my mind all at peace and lovey dovey. but, the core of me is completely content and at peace. i have found the me that i am supposed to be (at least at this point in my life).

so, i’ve done the 40 days. it’s just taken me 7 years. like other mystics, saints, buddhas, etc. i’ve spent my time alone (though i haven’t been alone). i’ve reflected + fought my demons. and, what i feel now… what i know is happening since i had no desire to do any lenten project this season, is that the energy is shifting.

it is time to say goodbye to past 7 years. to say goodbye to my old ways of doing things, and to embrace this energy that is swirling around me + within me. i don’t know what it means, and it sometimes terrifies me, but it’s time. it’s not time to think that i know what comes next or how things will work out and what my life will look like. but, it is time to turn around. and step forward.

i do not need to hold on to all of the self-focused, constantly reflective, quiet, contemplative ways of living. oh, these will all always be part of my life. but, it’s time that i focus outward again. like someone who has walked on a labyrinthian path in towards the inner circle and is now on her way out again, it’s time for my focus to change. my foundation is set. my feet are planted. and it’s time for me to take that first step. and then to faithfully trust in myself. i’ve learned way too much. there’s no going back now. it’s not even possible. it’s not time to imagine or plan. it’s simply time to do. to follow. to walk. to get moving. and, i have learned to have the courage that it takes to get moving without having a clue in hell as to what lies ahead. there’s no need to think about what i think should be happening. for now is the time to live in the present. to take it as it comes. to embrace everything. to realize what is happening – and then to live life in the middle of that. staying true to who i am.

i’m prepared. because i’ve been wandering for 7 years.

so, this lent, i am taking it day by day. doing my best to live in the moment and accept whatever comes, knowing that all will always be well. and i will always be me.

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onwards + upwards! xoxo

meditation mondays: looking at who we really are

“darkness is a place of unknowing, and it may be a place of danger or it may be a place of divine revelation.” – barbara brown taylor

look, i know that all of this darkness stuff is annoying. but who would we be if we didn’t reflect a little on our lives? and i don’t mean just remembering the good times + fun stuff, but also recognizing + admitting the not-so-good stuff. now, reflecting doesn’t have to bring us down, you know. we may already feel that we are covered in darkness actually. i also don’t think think that reflecting makes us a negative person – it just makes us honest. and we can call ourselves out of the all of the painful and shameful things because, ultimately, there is always hope + grace. we are always loved, always filled with that spark within.

being brutally honest with ourselves only serves as a way to lead us to becoming better people. it’s all part of our journey of becoming wh we are truly supposed to be: whole, healed, authentic, bearers of light.

and i can’t learn about who i am and where i want to go/who i want to be, if i don’t look at where i’ve been/who i’ve been and search my heart + soul, asking some real, honest, deep questions.

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these dark days of advent are the perfect days to engage in a sort of personal evaluation (and dream-casting). advent is a chance to uncover all of the darkness that covers my inner, divine light. and i want that light to shine, we all want our lights to shine, don’t we?

still, that light cannot be uncovered unless we explore what is getting in the way. we cannot grow and be transformed and move on in life if we do not understand what’s causing us to put up barriers. and, even if the darkness simply falls upon us, not of our own doing, we need a time in life to pull ourselves together and realize that we have all the power we need within us. we have the choice to determine how we want to live our life.

yes, the darkness has much to teach us. we actually do not understand the light with out the darkness. think about it: there is beauty in the dark, along with the fear and pain. without the night sky, we would not be dreamers and star-gazers. without clouds, there would be no shaft of light bursting through, giving us a real symbol of hope. without dark nights, we would not feel the magic of twinkle lights. without cold and snow, we would never see the strong, determined little flower peeking through reminding us that anything is possible.

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yes, the dark places can be scary. they are a place of unknowing and vulnerability, whether voluntary or involuntary. we always try to get out of our dark places as fast as possible. so, why would we intentionally place ourselves, even for only five minutes, in the middle of a dark place of honest reflection? but, i wonder… what happens if, when faced with the darkness, we take 3 breaths, feel around, and simply sit with it for a minute? what if there is something to be learned? what if the divine is presenting itself in the light that breaks through in the dark?

what if we shifted out thoughts from “dark = bad. light = good”? what if, for only this time of year, we embraced the darkness? learned from it. and found beauty and inspiration in the middle of it.

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an advent darkness meditation moment for you:

if you are so daring, light a candle and sit in the dark tonight. and just be. let the thoughts roll around in your mind. just let them come. and take three deep breaths. feel your soul. and, know, that no matter what… you are loved. and then, imagine what you need to remove from your life and what you need more of. send those thoughts up into the air or the sky. breathe again. remember, that even though the darkness surrounds you, the light shines within you. you have everything you need within you. embrace your true self and give thanks to the darkness for reminding you, once again, that you are not all of that darkness that seems to suffocate you. no… you are a light bearer.

love + light xx

how to survive the darkness: the season of advent begins

right now, in the northern hemisphere, we are literally stuck in darkness. the days just keep getting shorter and shorter. the darkness is heavy + thick. and we are waiting. waiting for the light to return – both literally + figuratively. waiting for a little glimmer of hope. but, it is oh so hard. and we have a long way to go.

today, however, with the beginning of the season of advent, we say that we refuse to just give up. we refuse to accept the darkness and its threat to swallow us whole. today, we take action in the midst of our waiting.

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in many homes, in many places of the world, we create our own light. we light one single candle, and we light a candle every sunday until christmas (for a total of 4) to mark our journey, bringing a teeny bit more of light into our lives each week. a candle that lights our way in the dark and gives us a tiny ray of hope… and, with these candles, we remember that the light will return.

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so, instead of remaining in the darkness, we light a candle and put a star in our window and put lights on our tree to proclaim that we are people of the light. that, even thought it is so very tough, we will not give up. even though we still have to wait, we will not surrender to the darkness. that’s right, we will make our own light dammit.

of course, we cannot speed up the universe’s process of turning us back toward the sun. we don’t have complete control over making the darkness go away. but, we do have complete control over how we wish to live. it’s our choice –  we can either sink deep into the darkness or we can find a way to bring a little light into an otherwise very dark world. we embrace our empowerment to bring some light into the dark, and yet, we still have to wait. and wait we will… breathlessly.

but, perhaps the darkness actually has something to teach us. perhaps the silence and emptiness and breathlessness will help us discover new ways of appreciating the light.

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as we journey on toward christmas, the new year, and arrival of light back into our lives, we spend our days and nights finding ways to co-create with nature – ways to make the waiting bearable. we seek ways to brighten up our homes, making them cozy + warm. basically, we make the best out of the situation because we believe. we trust and we know that this, the darkness, will not overtake us. and so, we bring light into our own lives – and we begin to spread that light into others.

and all along the way, we hope. we listen. we feel. and we light one more candle each week.

wednesday wisdom. rules of living #11.

today’s post is all about one of my other favorite things (besides travel and photography and spirituality!)… nesting. and what i mean by that is creating a home that is warm, inviting, friendly, comfortable, and cozy.

the dalai lama says this about homes:

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

it’s true, i believe, that one of the most important and intimate things that we can do is to offer hospitality to others. for lina and me, what that means is that our home is a place that, when people come to visit – for an hour or for a week – they feel relaxed, at home, and loved. having a home that provides an atmosphere of peace and calm is what we strive for most, i believe. and it’s something we actually talk about.

my love and i really do sit down and discuss what we can do to make our little corner of the world a sanctuary for visitors and for ourselves. we talk about future placement, knick knacks, decorations, art, flowers… just about everything. and we change how things look every so often, just because. how our home feels is very important. we want it to be a place of positive vibes. yes, a home should truly be a sanctuary. a safe place to nest and to feel free to be exactly who you are.

in addition to having a spot to return to every day that makes you feel relaxed and at peace, we want our home to be that place where everyone finds a place of retreat from the craziness of the world. there is so much stress. so much pain. so much confusion and craziness in our every day lives. so, i think that our homes are the places we can return to find safety and security. having a home that is a sanctuary provides us with a place to recharge. it truly can be the place that is the foundation of our lives – and i’m not only talking about the material things that surround us at home – but the people at home, the feeling that you get when you walk in your home.

with that said, i thought i’d share with y’all our secrets to creating our sanctuary at home  – remember, this is what makes our home a place of retreat. it’s what makes us feel cozy and home-y and relaxed. it looks different to each one of us, but perhaps we can glean a little inspiration from each other.

we try to keep some fresh flowers on our island (and some candy in a bowl!). they are one of the first things you see when you enter… creating a welcoming, friendly, organic atmosphere.

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we think that having a spot to sit in a corner is super cozy. a great place to read or snuggle up. i totally love mixing the brown leather and the metal lamp with a soft blanket. cozy, huh?DSC_0559

it’s always so great to have something green. a bit of a reminder of life and our connection to each other & the world.DSC_0562

oh, and yes. a couple of big, fluffy, huge blankets to wrap up in and have a movie or netflix marathon. the perfect way to spend a rainy day – or any day, actually.DSC_0564

we think it is very, very important to have music in our house – from the record player or our iphones, it doesn’t really matter. but, music sets the tone. and we have tons of playlists with tons of all kinds of music for every kind of situation and mood. and some musical art is an extra bonus. hehe,DSC_0568

a place to sit and share a meal together is a definite necessity. of course, in our opinion candles on the table are also a must. well, actually, candles all over our home are a must.DSC_0569

photos of some of our favorite places, people, and moments hung on the walls are some of our favorite things at home. it reminds us who we are and where we belong.DSC_0577

we’ve also designated places in our home that are meant to draw our creativity and dreams out. when i sit here, i am surrounded by things that remind me of what i want out of life, where i’ve come from, and where i hope to go. having a space like this designates a special area of focus – something that lina and i both need, as a student and a blogger/writer.
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books. books. books. one day i want a whole room of books – i want a library. but, for now, i have books that i have read that inspired and challenged and changed me on display. any visitor is welcome to grab one and read. but, for me, these books represent a lot of who i am and what matters to me. DSC_0584

lina and i changed our bedroom around a few months ago – we decided to move our bed under the windows. why? because windows mean a lot to us. they are our connection with the outside world, with nature. i can lie in bed at night, look up, and see stars. and there is something about that is magical for me. so, whether it is a bed or a chair or a window seat, having a place to rest by the window does a lot for the soul.DSC_0545

lights. lina and i have lights hanging everywhere. over the bed. on top of our kitchen cabinets. around our balcony doors – inside. on our balcony – outside. there is nothing quite like the glow of lights hanging in a room. talk about magical and cozy and warm.  – one other thing worth mentioning, we both have very important momentos beside our side of the bed. i have a little blue bird that came from my mom and my grandma; and also some origami prints from two very special friends who mailed me these photos. they just make me feel all cozy and loved.DSC_0537

lina and i love travel. like obsessively love it. so, it is completely necessary to have a map in our home. this one is on the wall beside my bed. i see it every morning – first thing, and every night – last thing. every time i look at it, i smile. and i’m inspired. i dream and wish. and i remember how big and beautiful this world is – and how much i want to see every little part of it. hanging things on your walls that inspire you and remind you who you are is a great way to make your home a place where you know you belong, i believe. and my map helps me remember that i belong everywhere. DSC_0531

one thing we did when we moved our bed was to put it directly on the floor. we wanted simplicity, coziness, and a minimalistic feeling. being right on the floor makes everything feel much more simple. and the covers we have, we made sure they were bigger than you would usually have so we could create a fluffy, cozy, squishy spot. don’t you just wanna hang out there all day?DSC_0557

create a space that is your own. lina and i each have a space that is the core of who we are. lina’s space is in our studio – at her desk and on the floor. you can find her there every single day. creating, drawing, being inspired, learning, and designing.

as for me, this is my special space – my personal little altar space. i have the most influential books i have read (minus to kill a mockingbird), my japa mala beads i hold during meditation and wear every day, elephants – because they are amazing & holy, and candles. i sit in front of this space at some point during every day, on my pillow on the floor, in order to meditate. i light candles, breathe, and write in my journal. it is my very special place – where i listen to my soul.DSC_0522 DSC_0527

so tell me. what are your favorite things in your home? what kind of atmosphere do you want to have? what’s your decorating style? have you got any tips on how to create a sanctuary at home? if so, please, share them!

namaste, dear friends.

party time!

happy friday, friends! here in the mcguire-eriksson household things are full speed ahead with preparations for a full-blown housewarming/christmas party called “eat, drink, & be merry”! that’s right. tonight we’re the hosts with the most. we’ve contacted friends and acquaintances from all parts of our life here in asheville and invited them to drop in for lots of christmas coziness – food, drink, carols, games, laughter. it’s gonna be legen – wait for it – dary! and we loooove to throw a party.

so, if you’re in the area, drop on by anytime after 5pm. and if you’re not in the area, or can’t come, then we wish you a friday filled with celebrations wherever you are.

i reaaaally need to get busy with all of those preparations, like right now. but first, i’d like to share with you some of the decorations we have in our home: we love to decorate (as you will see) and it’s all about creating a cozy, christmas-y atmosphere for us…

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that’s our place… third floor with the lights on the balcony and stars in the windows!

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ok. time to get busy. wishing you a lovely weekend and lots of moments of holiday cheer!

peace and love. xx

nesting day.

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i’ve got nothing special planned today – which is always a good thing in my world. it’s really gray outside. drizzly and chilly. and the hard rain, with possible thunderstorms, is on it’s way. so, i’m gonna hunker down on my sofa and read some new magazines. of course i’ll sip on coffee. and perhaps do some writing. but, we’ll see about that. in a little bit, i’ll light my autumn candle and fill the apartment with the sweet smell of spices and cinnamon. there will also be blankets involved, and definitely some comfort food, like a grilled cheese sandwich or swedish pancakes. oh, and some netflix time too. can’t forget that.

life is moving at warp speed. my days are filled with activities, meeting people, driving around town, exploring new places, spending time with my brother, and writing. and i get to share this life with the woman that i love, my inspiration and my everything. i couldn’t ask for anything more. truly. i have never, ever felt so content and at peace.

so, today, i am going to slow down and simply bask in that peace. it is international peace day, you know, and this is how i am going to celebrate.

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you see, i believe that to be peacemakers, we have to live as peacemakers ourselves. that does not mean that we have to board a plane and go work for the peace corps, though we can do that – and that would be awesome. what i believe about living as a peacemaker is more simply than trying to be like a saint or a guru that has achieved enlightenment. it means to live a life of peace in our every day lives, to  get to know ourselves from deep within, to work on ourselves, and to try to be true to who we are deep within our core – and that includes following our dreams and having the courage to acknowledge who we are, what we want, and how we have been created to use our own unique gifts. we were not made to follow a crowd, but to simply be who we are – and each of us is magnificent, beautiful, and amazing. each of us is already a powerful peacemaker in the making.

inner peace, enlightenment, contentment, happiness, whatever you call it, is already within us. nurturing our inner life will only lead us to live lives filled with deep peace. if we turn inward, if we explore our inner light, our inner soul, our inner truth, and then have the courage to follow it, we will exude peace in our daily, outer lives. others will see it and feel it. and that, my friends, i how we teach peace.

we teach peace by being peace.

i must admit to y’all, there is nothing like some good ole raw, honest, genuine bluegrass/folk rock for a rainy day to bring me to a place of deep peace. right now the darkness is closing in, the rain is  pouring down, and i have this video on repeat. these guys always touch my soul with their music & their lyrics. i cannot describe it, but i feel whole. grounded. well, simply peaceful. so, curl up somewhere for a few minutes and take a listen:

“we came to leave behind the world a better way” ~ the avett brothers

today, i am not going to march in any peace parade. or go to any protest. or take part in any community peace anything. i could, this is asheville, you know. hehe. instead, i’m staying home. i am going to let all the peace that is within me settle and soak deep into me today. i am going to nest. and i am going to nurture this peace that i feel, and listen to that still, small, quiet voice that whispers to me to simply be.

for me, today, peace begins at home.

“His ambition was not to become wealthy or to be well known, an image which society for some reason dictates each individual should prescribe to, instead his only ambition was to be at peace with himself, if he could achieve that than anything else he might need would follow. From now on he would question all things in life, but especially the rules and regulations of all authority institutions; he would take nothing on face value and only would accept what he personally knew to undeniably be true.” ― Andrew James PritchardCharnel House

sending you wishes for a calm, restful, peaceful weekend.