the magic of the winter solstice.

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happy winter, northern hemisphere family!

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“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”  ~ Edith Wharton

i woke up really early this morning. like about 5 am. of course, it was dark, and would stay dark for almost 3 more hours. i have been thinking of the winter solstice ever since december began… and i found it on my mind again this morning. and as i lay there, exhausted and cozy, i decided that i would spend the entire day today celebrating the  winter solstice with rituals and cozy moments.

i may sound a bit pagan to you right now, and if i do, then that’s fine, because there is nothing wrong with celebrating nature and the cycle of seasons, in my mind. in fact, given that i believe in a divine being, creative creator of all that is and was and will be, then nature is naturally (ha!) a part of the divine creation. religions, faith, spirituality, myths, and pagan traditions/rituals all seek to explain that divine being and our place in this world. seasons are a very concrete way, in my opinion, to demonstrate and embody the divine spark found in every living thing.

anyway, i lay in bed early this morning, wondering what little traditions and ways of celebrating the winter solstice i could create today. soon, i fell back asleep. but, i awoke again, still before the sun was up, and decided my first act would be to greet the day by watching the sun rise.

so, i made some chai tea, lit a candle, wrapped up in a blanket, and curled up in a chair on my balcony. it was chilly and very windy, but not uncomfortable. in fact, it was quite magical and mystical. all of my neighbros’ windows were dark. there were no people stirring or moving about. only a few cars passed on the road nearby. it was as if i was the only one awake. just me and nature.

IMG_6882as i sat there, the miracle that occurs every morning occurred. and i soaked in every magical, breathtaking moment. 

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today, the winter solstice, is the perfect day for slowing down and reflecting. the perfect day for celebrating the return of light back to the top half of the world. and this day is the reminder that the light, does indeed return, just as it does every year. it is the light that brings hope;  the same light that i also believe we find within each of us.

well, i spent about an hour and a half, alone, on my balcony. watching the sky brighten and turn colors, feeling the wind on my face, and hearing the chiming of wind chimes, as if they were announcing the arrival of light over the next few days.

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for me, celebrating the coming of light is literal and metaphorical. today and for the next six months, it is literal. the days begin to get brighter as the earth continues its rotation around the sun. light literally returns. and as these next few days pass, we also move ever closer to the celebration of christmas, the celebration of the light that comes to earth in a person. for me, this is the celebration of that light that is found in everyone of us… a light that makes us who we are, that connects us to each other, and calls us to live lives of peace, justice, and love. christian, jew, muslin, pagan, hindu, buddhist… whatever. that light, that divinity, is what makes us spiritual, amazing people.

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after the sun had risen and i came in, i decided to continue my celebration all day. so, i lit the christmas tree and the stars we have in our windows. i turned on a cozy playlist of christmas music, and settled down with my journal. on tap for the rest of my day, for the rest of my celebration, is a little of this and that: snuggling with the cat. reflecting on the past year and creating a photo journey of my 2013. meditating on my intentions and hopes for 2014. more christmas music. wine and glögg. and pj’s all day.

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celebrations of the winter solstice are thousands and thousands of years old. and people from all parts of the world have celebrated the fact that nature’s cycle continues. it is a beautiful remembrance that our lives are part of a larger order, always chaining and renewing.

so, if you have a chance, today or tomorrow, spend a few moments giving thanks for the light that brings hope. and take part in whatever little ritual, tradition, or moment you wish to slow down and mark the passing of this part of the cycle of life. this time of year, where, when all seems lost and that death & darkness have a firm grip on us, the sun returns. the light comes to us. all is not lost. life continues and hope abounds.

“The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come.  At the darkest moment comes the light.” ~ Joseph Campbell 

“I will love the light for it shows me the way.  Yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino
 

peace and light… to the world. xx

party time!

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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

sensory overload. part 5.

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it’s tuesday, and time to stop for a moment and think about all that has touched and piqued my senses in the last week… it was kind of a blended week, i think. busy times and relaxing times. a bit of just regular ole life, which is not a complaint at all. i’m feeling quite lucky that things are just rolling on. let me show you…

quiet mornings all by myself…

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fika meet up with TEN women from asheville – lots of new people this week!
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a working lunch at a fave cafe.
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friday celebrations with my love & my bro…

lina has officially completed her first semester at an american university! i am one proud wife!IMG_6466

so far, so good. ten days done! finding inspiration in my morning ritual.IMG_6488

headed down to raleigh saturday for a scandinavian christmas fair/market. road trip!IMG_6494

found this awesome button: i’m officially swedish!
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scandinavian people everywhere. so crazy and kinda weird. hehe.DSC_0899

my love was a bitty swedish girl, running around grabbing up swedish goodies that she is missing. it’s a proven fact… one of the biggest things that expats miss the most is food!DSC_0909

traditional swedish christmas yummies!! IMG_6497

and st. lucia was there too. a huge, amazing tradition in sweden during advent (dec. 13).DSC_0941 DSC_0947

on our way home, we decided to be a little spontaneous and stop at the festival of lights in tanglewood park. it is the largest light show in the southeast, i think. anyway, the little side trip put us back about 3 hours, but it was so worth it. fun traditions!! 
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we celebrated the 2nd sunday in advent with a cozy, relaxing day at home. i wrote an article for the newspaper, we finished all of the seasons of breaking bad, and… that’s about all i can remember. basically, it was a pj day. awesome.IMG_6584 IMG_6588

Seeing: christmas decorations and lights everywhere. oh, gosh i love this time of year!

Smelling: tea, coffee, cinnamon, evergreen leaves. wonderful smells of the season.

Tasting: yummy swedish food!! and some special, locally brewed beer at the brewery about a block from our apartment.

Touching: receiving hugs from the little kids that i taught when i visited the school to talk about being a writer. having a chance to be around a classroom full of children again was just wonderful!

Hearing: the voices of new friends and interesting women during my fika meet up. it is so crazy to listen to the stories and adventures of different people, discovering how we all ended up here in asheville at this moment in time.

Feeling: calm and peaceful in the early mornings before the sun rises. it’s my own private time to just breathe and ease into the day. i have been trying very hard to soak in this december, intentionally focusing on the season, in the hopes of not getting all caught up in stuff.

though it’s already tuesday, it has been and is going to be a very festive week! dinner out last night, friends coming over tonight for a little, cozy christmas celebration, family time drinking beer at the brewery again (we loved it), going to the theater, and parties this weekend – more on that later!

hoping that your week is going well… only two weeks till christmas! sending you lots of cheer and love today.

peace. xx