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

the rapture of being alive

undoubtedly this was the perfect day. the perfect way to usher in a new decade, a new year, and a new season of my life. it was simple. authentic. peaceful. it filled with nature + food/drink. but, most importantly, i had my amazing family around me. my love even skipped class to be with me the whole day – and that’s a big, huge deal. from the sunrise breakfast in bed to the late night sipping on bubbles, and everything in-between, my birthday was magical, glorious, and overwhelmingly perfect.

birthday breakfast marshall, nc 40 selfie marshall, nc

birthday fika french broad river my girls
mountain road paige and me river feet french broad river wildflowers cocktails me cocktails jello shots jello shots my love and me selfie ego my brother and me ego my parents and me ego selfie

thank you to everyone who left your wishes and love here on the blog, on Facebook, or on instagram. my heart is full and i am still overflowing with joy and gratitude. i’ve got a little quote to sum up exactly how i feel:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

― Joseph CampbellThe Power of Myth

peace + love

wedding fun!

now it’s time for some fun photos captured on my iPhone – a little bit silly and crazy, but also a little “behind the scenes” look at wedding preparations and the wedding day.

in case you don’t know what i’m talking about, my wife’s sister got married last saturday and i was one of the photographers for the day. i posted some of my “professional” photos in a previous post, but now i thought i’d give you a little bit more of a personal look at the festivities.

after we returned from the week we spent at a camp out in the archipelago (click here to see those photos!), it was wedding central here as we prepared for he big day. lina, my wife, was the maid of honor, so she had lots to prepare. plus, she was going to sing with her cousin at the wedding as well. i was asked to be “toastmaster”/host, along with lina’s and ulrika’s (the bride) brother. i really had no idea what that entailed, except that he and i were in charge of hosting/emceeing the program that took place during the three-ish hours of dinner/cake & coffee. needless to say, i was freaking out. but, in my soul, i knew it’d be all right. and it was. more on that later. oh, and yes, i was a photographer too!

all that to say, we had a lot going on before the wedding – including making the paper brochures/programs that my love designed, to sit at each place setting. they were filled with information, games, and songs to be used during the reception. we made 70 of them, and there were about 7 pages in each, so it was a lot of cutting, gluing, and putting together. plus, we had some bags of goodies/necessary items to use during the reception as well. 70 of them too. i think it took us (me, lina, & paige) about 24 hours in total to complete everything. phew. but, it was so worth it. i think everything looked amazing!

IMG_5033 IMG_5040

we did have a break in those 24 hours to go and get drinks with a very special person – and holy fun, batman. it was a hilarious evening of laughter, giggles, photos, and a chance to just relax together. plus, the drinks were a-a-amazing.

IMG_5053 IMG_5062

friday we completed all of the programs and decorations that we were in charge of and lina finally had a chance to rehearse with the other musicians – her cousins – late into the night. you know, just hours before the wedding. no biggie. hehe. paige and i ate dinner out while they rehearsed, but met up with them as they finished up. i got all teary-eyed when i listened to them as the practiced in the church where i used to work – so many emotions, memories, and feelings. all good, though. it was a good, overwhelmed kind of cry.

IMG_5085

the wedding day arrived, and we are all whisked off to separate places. lina went to her sister’s to get ready for the ceremony. paige and i headed out to the venue, a lovely and quaint cafe area by the water about 15 minutes outside of the city. there, we put the finishing touches on the tables, made a little photo booth corner for guests to use during the afternoon/night, and made sure the final things were ready.

when we finished our duties, we had a little bit of time before everyone arrived, so we headed to the cafe for a cozy lunch with an amazing view of the water. then, we headed back to the reception area and got ourselves all ready for the wedding. the fun was about to begin!

IMG_5086

IMG_5168 IMG_5093 IMG_5095 IMG_5098
IMG_5102 IMG_5112

IMG_5114

after the ceremony, my second job began. by now, jonas (lina’s brother) and i realized we really didn’t know what we were doing, though we had plans for the entire evening. so we did what we both try to do best: wing it. but, really, we just took a few deep breaths, stood up, welcomed everyone and began to share with them information. then, as the reception and meal went on, we just took some more deep breaths, discussed with one another what we’d do next, and every so often, decided that it was time that we provide a bit more entertainment/activity. i have to say, it was so much fun. and jonas, well, he was the best partner ever!

IMG_5134

on my other side at the table, sat lina’s “bonus” brother (long story, but he is part of the family). with him and jonas by my sides, the evening was just amazing – and hilarious. IMG_5132 then, it was party time – and my duties were done! after the first dance was complete, lina grabbed my hand and pulled me out on the dance floor – not hard to do because i love, love, love to dance. and the party was officially on. everyone was gettin’ jiggly wid’it. and i had a few moments of pure bliss, of realizing one again, how blessed i am. and how amazing it is to be in swede, celebrating a wedding, and to belong – to have my own place here, just as i have my own place in asheville/north carolina. i belong both places – and amazing and heart-breaking fact of my life.

IMG_5150

photo by paige: for the love of wanderlust

IMG_5174 IMG_5175

it was a fantastic day, one where i was completely and totally exhausted from at the end of it – and the end of it was about 3 am. still, i would not have changed one tiny little thing. what a joy. what a life. what an amazing adventure of love.

peace and love to you. xx

 

and we’re off!

my love and i don’t mess around when it comes to celebrating. nope. and in honor of the fact that lina just completed her last final exam for the semester and her first full year at an american university (and did an amazing job at it!), we are gettin’ outta dodge = it’s time for a road trip!

school’s out and we’re headed to the beach! like, today. right now. so, see ya later peeps. we’ll only be gone for a few days – because lina’s mom and 2 of her aunts are coming to visit for a week! i know, tons of excitement right now, right?!

beach

wishing you a fantastic week wherever you are – and wherever you are, seek the peace within that reminds you that you are exactly where you need to be (even if you don’t want to be there). hold on… because, you already have everything you need within you. we all do. and all we need to do is connect with our true self, with our soul, with the universal flow of peace and love that runs through us all…

but, more about that in another post. for now, it’s windows down, radio on, and beach-bound!

peace out. xx

where the magic happens

IMG_0862

i cannot begin to describe to you how beautiful it is right now. i’m on my balcony and the sun is setting. it’s almost 75 degrees (24 celsius) and it’s after 8 pm. the sky goes from shades of dark blue in the east to pink in the west. there is not one cloud. i’ve got a glass of wine by my side, in my favorite deep blue wine glass. our little twinkling lights are on, wrapped around the balcony door, giving off a festive, warm glow. just below me, sits one couple enjoying their steak and wine at a bistro table, and another couple prepares their dinner on the grill. the fire in the fire pit is glowing where a few people have gathered to chat. others walk past, saying hi, as they take an evening stroll. it’s simply magical.

IMG_0884

this is how i am silently, peacefully, and quietly celebrating my three year blog anniversary. and it feels just perfect.

when i woke this morning, i wanted to do a big, celebratory post. maybe a contest, maybe something super inspirational. but, as the day progressed, i found myself involved in other things, other responsibilities, and i could’t seem to find to time to think about the blog, much less prepare a post.

until, right now. and then, i just knew that this quiet, solitary (how else would it really be in the blog world, though? in reality, we are all blogging alone, aren’t we) moment was the perfect time to just celebrate this day, this passing of time.

IMG_0881

so, i suppose that instead of having some grand look back over the past three years (you and i can do that by looking through my archives any day) and writing a summary, or instead of looking forward and making goals, promises, or challenges, i realized that the greatest celebration that i can give myself and share with you is the celebration of right now. to just be and breathe and give thanks and feel life coursing through my veins.

of course, i am grateful for what this blog has meant to me, how it has saved my life and changed my entire way of being, loving, and living. and i am curious, so curious, as to what lies ahead for me and for belovelive… will it touch and inspire people, making them laugh and cry and feel alive? will it become a book? will it become a money-making blog that allows me to write and live? but those are all what ifs… and not appropriate for living in the present moment.

what is important is where i am right now. who i am right now. this glorious present moment. and i give thanks for it. i understand from deep within my soul how blessed and amazingly lucky i am.

IMG_0866

tonight, dear blog, i celebrate you. and i celebrate how you have made me feel alive – how the words and images that i have created have empowered me to feel completely alive and happy and at peace.

yes, this day, this moment is magical. so, as i take a sip of wine, touch my hand to my heart, listen to the voices of my neighbors, hear the first crickets of the season chirping, look up to see the first star twinkling right above me, and breathe in all of life, i celebrate. and i give thanks.

IMG_0885

tonight, this is where the magic happens.

love & peace. xx