and the celebrations continue…

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Four years ago, on a beautiful, snowy Swedish day, I married my amazing Lina. It has been an incredible 4th year together… full of dreams coming true and strength beyond comprehension, and you know what? I am more in love than ever. Happy Anniversary, my everything!

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lucky me. peace. xx

enjoying the last few mysterious minutes of christmas day…

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are you stuffed? or satisfied? do you feel exhausted? or energized? was it a peaceful day? or a wild & crazy one? whatever your christmas day has brought you, i hope that it has been beautiful and meaningful… i hope it has been exactly what you wanted and/or needed.

i have been blessed with a very quiet, calm day. a little different from all christmases throughout the rest of my life, but change is inevitable. and almost always for the better… i’ll admit, i have had my share of sad moments today, but even in those, i have felt a certain peace. a kind of steadiness and security – something that comes from two things: one, is my complete acceptance and appreciation of myself. i’m in a really good place right now… strong, grounded, inspired. my steadiness and security also come from my amazing wife and the unconditional, ever-supportive, always-nurturing love that she gives me. so, those rougher moments were made all the more smooth.

still, as i lay in bed right now, with only the glow of the computer and the star lit in our window, i feel a deep peace within. and a twinge of excitement and hesitation as i embark on the last week of this year, and approach the first week of a new one. i have no idea what is in store for me for 2014… but i am breathless with anticipation and it feels as if the slate is completely blank. like anything is possible.

but, before i get on with those reflective posts about the new year (more to come in the next week), i want to revel in the magic and mystery of christmas for a few more minutes…

so, just to be a little different, i thought i’d share with y’all my christmas photos in video-style. there were many magical, peaceful, and wonderfully shared moments during this advent and christmas season. one thing is for sure… this has been the most spiritual, meaningful, powerful, and disciplined advent season i have ever experienced. interestingly, i did not step foot in a church or take part in any other organized religion’s activity the entire time. what i did do was devote at least 30 minutes every morning to myself for reading, writing, reflecting, and/or meditating. that time every day was perhaps one of the greatest gifts i received this christmas.

anyway… here are some holiday moments that i captured with my camera – some of them spent alone, but most of them spent in the presence of loved ones. enjoy!

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click on the photo to watch the video!

here’s to wishing you a very merry christmas filled with love & peace.

 

 

 

Christmas to Me.

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Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time, so, back in September, when I ran across this essay that she had written, I knew that I would use her words as my Christmas greeting to all of you this year.

My dear blogging friends and family, thank you for reading and for supporting me throughout this incredible year – a year where I saw writing dreams of my own come true. Thank you for following along and for journeying with me. Merry Christmas to you all! 

Christmas to Me: an essay by Harper Lee 

Several years ago, I was living in New York and working for an airline, so I never got home to Alabama for Christmas—if, indeed, I got the day off. To a displaced Southerner, Christmas in New York can be rather a melancholy occasion, not because the scene is strange to one far from home, but because it is familiar: New York shoppers evince the same singleness of purpose as slow moving Southerners; Salvation Army bands and Christmas carols are alike the world over: at that time of year, New York streets shine wet with the same gentle farmer’s rain that soaks Alabama’s winter fields.

I missed Christmas away from home, I thought. What I really missed was a memory, an old memory of people long since gone, of my grandparents’ house bursting with cousins, smilax, and holly. I missed the sound of hunting boots, the sudden open-door gusts of chilly air that cut through the aroma of pine needles and oyster dressing. I missed my brother’s night-before-Christmas mask of rectitude and my father’s bumblebee bass humming “Joy to the World.”

In New York, I usually spent the day, or what was left of it, with my closest friends in Manhattan. They were a young family in periodically well-to-do circumstances. Periodically, because the head of the household employed the precarious craft of writing for their living. He was brilliant and lively; his one defect of character was an inordinate love of puns. He possessed a trait curious not only in a writer but in a young man with dependents; there was about him a quality of fearless optimism—not of the wishing-makes-it-so variety, but that of seeing an attainable goal and daring to take risks in its pursuit. His audacity sometimes left his friends breathless—who in his circumstances would venture to buy a townhouse in Manhattan? His shrewd generalship made the undertaking successful: while most young people are content to dream of such things, he made his dream a reality for his family and satisfied his tribal longing for his own ground beneath his feet. He had come to New York from the Southwest and, in a manner characteristic of all natives thereof, had found the most beautiful girl in the east and married her.

To this ethereal, utterly feminine creature were born two strapping sons, who, as they grew, discovered that their fragile mother packed a wallop that was second to nobody’s. Her capacity to love was enormous, and she spent hours in her kitchen, producing dark, viscous delights for her family and friends.

They were a handsome pair, healthy in mind and body, happy in their extremely active lives. Common interests as well as love drew me to them: and endless flow of reading material circulated amongst us; we took pleasure in the same theatre, films, music: we laughed at the same things, and we laughed so much in those days.

Our Christmases together were simple. We limited our gifts to pennies and wits and all-out competition. Who would come up with the most outrageous for the least? The real Christmas was for the children, an idea I found totally compatible, for I had long ago ceased to speculate on the meaning of Christmas as anything other than a day for children. Christmas to me was only a memory of old loves and empty rooms, something I buried with the past that underwent a vague, aching resurrection every year.

One Christmas, though, was different. I was lucky. I had the whole day off, and I spent Christmas Eve with them. When morning came, I awoke to a small hand kneading my face. “Dup,” was all its owner had time to say. I got downstairs just in time to see the little boys’ faces as they beheld the pocket rockets and space equipment Santa Claus had left them. At first, their fingers went almost timidly over their toys. When their inspection had been completed, the two boys dragged everything into the center of the living room.

Bedlam prevailed until they discovered there was more. As their father began distributing gifts, I grinned to myself, wondering how my exceptionally wily unearthments this year would be received. His was a print of a portrait of Sydney Smith I’d found for thirty-five cents; hers was the complete works of Margot Asquith, the result of a year’s patient search. The children were in agonies of indecision over which package to open next, and as I waited, I noticed that while a small stack of present mounted beside their mother’s chair, I had received not a single one. My disappointment was growing steadily, but I tried not to show it.

They took their time. Finally she said, “We haven’t forgotten you. Look on the tree.”

There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me. I opened it and read: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

“What does this mean?” I asked.

“What it says,” I was told.

They assured me that it was not some sort of joke. They’d had a good year, they said. They’d saved some money and thought it was high time they did something about me.

“What do you mean, do something about me?”

To tell the truth—if I really wanted to know—they thought I had a great talent, and—

“What makes you think that?”

It was plain to anyone who knew me, they said, if anyone would stop to look. They wanted to show their faith in me the best way they knew how. Whether I ever sold a line was immaterial. They wanted to give me a full, fair chance to learn my craft, free from the harassments of a regular job. Would I accept their gift? There were no strings at all. Please accept, with their love.

It took some time to find my voice. When I did, I asked if they were out of their minds. What made them think anything would come of this? They didn’t have that kind of money to throw away. A year was a long time. What if the children came down with something horrible? As objection crowded upon objection, each was overruled. “We’re all young,” they said. “We can cope with whatever happens. If disaster strikes, you can always find a job of some kind. Okay, consider it a loan, then, if you wish. We just want you to accept. Just permit us to believe in you. You must.”

“It’s a fantastic gamble,” I murmured. “It’s such a great risk.”

My friend looked around his living room, at his boys, half buried under a pile of bright Christmas wrapping paper. His eyes sparkled as they met his wife’s, and they exchanged a glance of what seemed to me insufferable smugness. Then he looked at me and said softly; “No, honey. It’s not a risk. It’s a sure thing.”

Outside, snow was falling, an odd event for a New York Christmas. I went to the window, stunned by the day’s miracle. Christmas trees blurred softly across the street, and firelight made the children’s shadows dance on the wall beside me. A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love. Our faith in you was really all I had heard them say. I would do my best not to fail them. Snow still fell on the pavement below. Brownstone roofs gradually whitened. Lights in distant skyscrapers shone with yellow symbols of a road’s lonely end, and as I stood at the window, looking at the lights and the snow, the ache of an old memory left me forever.

This essay was originally published in McCall’s in December 1961.

peace and love to you and yours.