everyone loves a {christmas} parade

my friends, monday night was super festive in my world. if i wasn’t in the christmas spirit before, i certainly am now! you see, lina and i gathered a bunch of warm clothes and headed over to waynesville, nc (about 30 minutes away where my parents live + where i used to live for a period of time in my earlier life – i lived there when i first met lina, so she’s visited waynesville a lot) to take part in a fantastic american holiday tradition:

a typical small town, usa christmas parade!

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my parents have lived in waynesville for the past 22 years, my bother grew up there as a teenager, and i lived there for a while when i was previously married. it is a typical, cozy mountain town. complete with a little main street with shops, cafes, bookstores, restaurants, and a general store. the prefect little place for tourists to visit as they explore the deep, heart of the mountains of western north carolina. there isn’t much else to the city, except the main street, a few other places downtown, and the people. it’s a pretty slow-paced, relaxed place. what makes this community something special is two things: the people who live here – good, simple, country, outdoors-loving, family-oriented people + the fact that it is the gateway into the great smokey mountains. therefore, it’s a friendly, cute place with an amazing abundance of nature all around. sound idyllic? well, it is.

waynesville is the town that taught me to appreciate and love small town life. there is a charm and simplicity about living in a community where everyone pulls together and helps one another. and, as i was there on monday, i remembered everything that i loved about living there. i don’t want to live there again right now, but the memories + the feelings + a complete appreciation of the town crept up in me as i walked the streets and was surrounded by the people, especially old friends + family members.

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when we got there, lina and i went directly to our favorite café – panacea. i am pretty sure that it is my favorite café in the whole world. if i could re-create it and add a few “liz touches” to my own café somewhere, then i would be one happy girl. in any case, we met my parents there, sipped on coffee and chatted for about an hour before dinner.

after dinner, we headed to main street to claim our spots on the sidewalk to watch the parade go by. and we got some goooood spots. by the time the sun went down, the parade began – and it lasted for over an hour. the air was cold, but we were so excited that we didn’t even notice. a few times, lina was so overwhelmed by the whole experience that she shed a few tears in the midst of her giggles. i was just one giant big ball of laughter and smiles, watching and enjoying the people and the floats go by.

i have not been around so much christmas cheer in a very long time – if ever. it was a night of absolute pure, simple joy. and i am still on a high from it all!

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have you found your christmas cheer yet?! do you have any special christmas traditions that warm your heart and bring you a sense of nostalgia? share with me!

love + light xx

 

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meditation mondays: those crazy dark times in advent

i had every intention of writing this sometime monday morning. but, here it is, late monday night. i am sitting in near darkness, with only the soft glow of our red christmas star hanging in the window over my head. and, while i wanted to get this out early in the day, i cannot help but think that this is exactly as it should be.

because this is exactly what advent is all about: a quiet, still, solitude that is hopeful + unnerving all at the same time. a confusing, and yet, peaceful place in the middle of the darkness. it is waiting on the advent, or arrival, of something – for the arrival of a great, amazing, transformative thing. and having no idea what to expect. so, it is to wait with great, excited anticipation + to wait with nail-biting apprehension… scared + overjoyed about what may come.

i admit that that is exactly how i feel right now – literally, and in my life in general. one great big exciting, scary journey into the unknown.

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the stress of moving was at its height today. there were frustrations + disappointments about how to get everything done, how to find a place to live, how to trust that everything will fall into place, and how to get our things shipped in a much cheaper way than we’ve been quoted. and then there were big celebrations as well – like putting our furniture online and selling almost all of the big things within 1.5 hours! amazing! yes. today has been a roller coaster of a ride emotionally. and i feel that darkness + fear, and that hope + excitement all at the same time. and, ultimately, there is nothing that i can do but to keep on going about my daily business filled with chores and waiting and hoping and more waiting.

but, there are signs all along the way. there are moments of clarity and moments of inspiration, moments when i feel that my soul is singing, or that everything seems to be lined up. there are moments that i just know what i know, and i feel a connection to something much greater than myself. these are simple, mystical, magical moments – and they keep me journeying on. they are shafts of light piercing into the darkness.

however, i am never magically released from whatever darkness i feel. the dark times come + go, but when they are here, then they are simply here. and i must go through them.

today, as i felt the confusion and frustration and out-of-control feeling, i just let myself feel it. knowing that it would not last forever. and, also knowing that i have the choice and the power to choose how i respond  to it – not that i always choose rightly.

however, when i do choose rightly, i choose to nurture my soul. i choose to write or bask in the beauty of nature or enjoy a beer with my love and a friend. and i choose to meet you all right here – on my little blogging page. this place is a ray of light shining in the dark for me. this is where i rest, reflect, and awaken to the signs of the universe, to the signs of advent. this time, on meditation mondays, is sacred to me. it is a covenant i have made with all of you – though you did not know it until right now. it is a promise to return every monday during the last 6 weeks of 2014 so that i can write and think and be and learn and grow. this is a place where my darkness fades, and the light shines.

now, i have a challenge for you, friends. a challenge to journey with me for the next 5 mondays as we go inward (dec. 8 + 15), reflecting on who we are + the darkness in our life, and as we then, turn and go out (dec. 22 + 29 and jan 5), discovering ways that we are called to live life true to ourselves + become the light that pierces the dark.

may you not be afraid of the dark, because you are not alone. i am here. we are here together.

 

light + love 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.

advent candle home asheville

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.

silver + gold: a playlist for december

here we go, people. let the holidays begin! lina and i have begun the decorating process… just a little bit here + there right now. the christmas tree adventure is planned for tomorrow! but, while we’ve been working on some of our decorations, we have, of course, gotten out all of our christmas music and let it run all day long. it’ll be like that for the rest of the year. hehe.

now i know some of you out there are like me… you looove christmas music + you love to fill your days with good music. so, for the month of december, i have gathered music from far + wide and created a december playlist (which i am doing every month to celebrate turning 40 this past fall.) for us all! be prepared for all kinds of holiday music: traditional tunes with bing crosby mixed with she + him mixed with swedish singers like peter jöback mixed with folk styles mixed with hymns… and so much more. it’s a little bit of everything. and it’s everything that i completely love.

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i hope that as you prepare for the holiday season, as you go about your busy days out + about, and your cozy days + nights at home, this playlist will bring you joy. i hope that it will inspire you to laugh and reflect and be silent and dance all at the same time.

so, go on and click on the image below or on the spotify link { here } to get all access to your december playlist! enjoy!!

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happy holidays, friends!

light + love xx

 

[spotify id=”spotify:user:elre74:playlist:3K6PuvCFQGXYMAIfDFIfCN” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

 

 

enjoying the last few mysterious minutes of christmas day…

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.