my bro, my kindred spirit. happy birthday to you!

brother fishing

today is my little brother’s birthday! and to celebrate i want to tell you just a little bit about him. i can never do him justice by writing about him, actually. you really need to meet this man. still i’m gonna do what i can.

my bro is 4 years younger than me + about 40 years more wise than me in many ways. his mind, his heart, his determination, his energy, his commitment, his soul… everything about him makes me so proud to call him my brother, and my friend.

about two years ago lina (my wife)  and i moved to asheville, north carolina (my home state) from sweden, where we had lived for 3 years. in that time, i had missed my family terribly. in one way my brother and i have been close, and in one way, we hadn’t. but, this move to asheville changed everything about our relationship.

brother me 40th birthday 2

we spent at least 3-4 evenings or days together every single week for about a year and a half. drinking beer, eating out, just being together. he was going through a terrible, tough time. i was living the high life, loving all of the asheville vibes, and kind of all over the place. and, while we had different things going on in our lives, we met each other exactly where we were. we needed each other. i listened to him. i leant him my big sister ear. and he encouraged me to truly, truly live life. to be authentic. to follow my heart. and to get off my ass and make shit happen. we were each other’s support. (of course i include my amazing wife in all of this too because she was a part of supporting and caring for both of us).

my brother is wise, as i eluded to before. so wise that he thinks and lives on his own terms, which is not at all to say that he is selfish. he lives on his own terms, trying to find a way to speak and live the truth in every thing he does. one night at dinner i called him a prophet. i ‘m not sure he liked that, but i secretly still think it’s true. the definition of a prophet is someone who speaks a message of truth to a community, a society, a group of people. and pretty much every prophet is rejected and misunderstood. that folks, is my brother.

brother moving

however, none of us are perfect. far from it. and my brother, prophet or not, is not excluded from this. but, he is the perfect brother for me. coming from the same home, having the same + yet completely different childhood/teenage/adult experiences, we always seem to meet up in the same place. inside i believe that our souls are the same. we may live life a little bit differently from each other at times, but our love, our spirits connect always.

of course, not everything is always so serious and deep with us (i mean, a lot of times it is). but, we also channel some fun, crazy silliness that runs in our family. i will always cherish those late nights of eating burgers + drinking beer with my love and my bro in our favorite asheville spots. we laughed, we giggled, we pondered life, we questioned humanity. yes, these were special, special times.

brother me 39th birthday

brother monk

brothers lina mebrother me coffeebrother me truck

times that i miss so very much. after a year and a half of spending so much time with my brother, there is an emptiness that lina and i both feel now that we are back in sweden, and since he has left asheville too.  it’s not the same. it never will be. it was a very, very special year and a half.

brother me camping

fortunately…. he is planning to come and visit us in about two weeks!!! this big sister is more excited than you could ever understand!

me-and-nick-brother

so, little brother, the celebration of your birthday will continue once you are here. but, for today, on the day that your were born some thirty-seven years ago, and little 3 and a half year old me held you in my arms on the sofa, i send you a virtual hug across the ocean, knowing that i get to hug your neck very, very soon!

no matter what, we always have each other. we got each other.  blood and love hold us together.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NICK! I LOVE YOU!

a little song that i dedicate to my brother today.  a perfect example of the give + take that i share with my brother. click {here} to listen to the song on spotify. (song + lyrics by first aid kit).

Brother, you are my guiding star
Forever, you roam, I won’t be far
I have so many things to learn from you
I was so lost until you came through
And led me through the dark

Brother, come close don’t stray away
For I know
You’ll turn and run from us some day
Like you must
We all do
I’ve been there too
If it all gets too real
I know how you feel
And I’ll be your guiding light

Världen är så stor min bror (The world is big, my brother)
Den är så skrämmande stor (It is so frighteningly big)
När det blir för tungt, min bror (When things ge too tough, my brother)
Lägger du tyngden på mig då? (Will you lay your heavy burdens on me then)

Brother, I haven’t always been near
There’s so much I’ve been through the last couple of years
You did grow
Leaps and bounds
With or without me
Here I am
Understand it’s where I want to be
I’ll follow you
My guiding star

cheers-valborg

valborg: an inside look at the swedish celebration of spring

happy may day, friends! we survived valborg (see the post the other day to find out what valborg is) and had a great day! the weather people forecasted a crappy day of on + off rain and chilly temps. but. it was gorgeous! super windy, but beautiful. seeing the sun shine + blue skies on valborg is exactly what i asked for.

we started pretty early by packing all of booze in backpacks and riding our bike to lina’s brother’s place for the traditional champagne + strawberries breakfast.

morning-bike-ride

and there they are! now valborg has officially begun!
champagne-strawberries-valborg

cheers! let the festivities start!lina-and-me-valborg-2015

breakfast = pizza, chips, candy, sandwiches, veggies, beer, champagne, wine. yes. this was at 9am. love it!valborg-breakfast

just one of many, many skåls (cheers!) of the day
cheers-valborg

we moved out to the balcony. enjoying conversations, silly times, laughter, and just hanging out. even though we’d been drinking (and eating) for about 4 hours, i found myself having some deep conversations more than once. that’s how i roll. hehe.balcony-party-valborg

sibling-in-law love!jonas-me-borther-in-law

sometime mid-afternoon we left the apartment + headed to a park where we could hear a traditional, famous men’s chorus sing in traditional, well-known spring songs. swedes are seriously into their songs/hymns that talk about spring, flower, blue skies, the forests, sunshine, warm weather. it’s major business here.concert-park-valborg

blue sky + sunshine as we sat in the park with the cathedral steeples towering over us.cathedral

picnicking! picnic-valborg

wine-to-go. so smart + easy to carry aroundwine-picnic,-park-valborg-me-lina

have i mentioned the amazing weather?!blue-skies-valborg

after a while, we decided to leave the park + wander onward. a pizza place for a little food. and then, to another one’s apartment for more hanging out time together.golden-hour-valborg-uppsala-friends

lina and i excused ourselves from the party about 8:30 + headed to the castle to hear another choir sing more songs about spring. we were no where near the only people there. uppsala was still filled with people in the parks + on the streets enjoying the coming of spring.moon-castle-valborg

everyone’s singing along. everyone except me. i gotta learn the lyrics!moon-over-castle-valborg

after 9, i twas still light out. but, the sun was setting. we slowly headed home, soaking up the atmosphere + the energy that was still all over the city.valborg-suset

what a beautiful, fun, fantastic day. hooray for valborg! hooray for spring!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

70th perfection

there is a thing that i discovered when i lived in sweden that is quite common – and fun. and it seemed like the perfect time to include it in my/our american life.

you see, sometimes, when friends or family members have a birthday, they choose to celebrate together. they add their ages together and then say that they are having a 50 years party (two 25 year olds), for example. well, lina and i have celebrated some pretty big birthdays this year – 30 and 40. so, there was nothing else to do but celebrate our 70th together!!

and last friday, we did just that. we invited friends (who also invited some friends) and decided to hang out at one of my favorite places in asheville, the bywayer. it’s a bar that sits on the banks of the french broad river. a place for kayakers or tubers or rafters to pull out and grab a beer and grill some food.

of course, you can drive to this place as well. but, it’s hidden behind a tall wooden fence, looking like not much of anything from the street-side. seeing as this is a bar, it doesn’t sell food, but it does provide a big backyard, grills, picnic tables, lots of drinks, train tracks, and coziness. plus, as i said before, it’s by the river.

it’s a super relaxed place to be – and i mean just be. yourself. as yourself. a place of realness and a sense of acceptance and freedom.

so, we gathered there last friday with about 15 or so friends. we talked, drank, laughed, snacked, and had a delicious cake provided by my brother.

it was the absolutly perfect 70 years celebration. absolutely perfect.

DSC_0927

IMG_7999

IMG_8040 IMG_8012

DSC_0915

DSC_0922 IMG_8017 IMG_8021 DSC_0928

peace + love