wedding bells weekend

i’m gonna try to write words, but i know that my words will not do the experience justice.

today, i had the pure joy, honor, + privilege to perform my first wedding ceremony. and as if that wasn’t enough, there were many other factors that made it even more amazing…

about 2 weeks ago, i got an email from someone who had seen my officiant/minister profile online. she introduced herself and told me that she + her partner of twenty-six years (!) wanted to be married. they were from alabama and wondered if i could meet them in murphy – a little mountain town in north carolina that borders georiga, tennessee, and alabama – and perform their ceremony.

well,  of course i said yes!

so, today, after emails back and forth for the past 2 weeks and preparing a ceremony that that approved of, i hopped in my car and drove through the mountains, on windy roads, through colorful woods, and by a rushing river to get to murphy. i was excited, nervous, and so humbled to be doing this.

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i parked my car on the main street in murphy and saw the courthouse, big + beautiful, overlooking the downtown area. suddenly, i realized that we were in very conservative, rural country and people might not look too highly on two women getting married. the ladies would have to go into the courthouse and apply for their marriage license, and legally they have every right to do that, but i wondered how people would react in the office. i was now nervous about any negativity that we might encounter.

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i made my way to the register of deeds (where you get your marriage license) and waited for the ladies to arrive. the elevator dinged, and two women appeared – all of us instantly knowing who the others were. one of the ladies gave me a hug, the other shook my hand. lesbian vibes bouncing everywhere in that little hallway.

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after a few moments of just meeting face to face, we walked into the office. they were nervous. i was nervous. and the lady asked what she could help us with. the two women proudly said that they wanted a marriage license, and the woman behind the desk said, “certainly. can i have your id’s?”. that was it!

apparantly, same-sex couples from the surrounding states had been showing up in murphy all week in order to get married. remember, it is now legal in north carolina, but illegal in every other southern state. so, the past 2 weeks, since it became legal, people have crossed state lines in order to fulfill dreams.

for these two women, it had been a dream that they both thought would never happen in their lifetimes, they told me as we stood there while the paperwork was being processed. they fidgeted, one more than the other, and they just wanted to get it over with. but, they were so elated to have this opportunity.

i can’t even imagine… being together all of those years and not able to openly show their love. alabama is even more backwards than north carolina. they described to me how they hid their love for each other for a long time, how they snuck about, and how they just confronted their bullies. they have been through a lot, way more than i have, and here they were, about to make their family legal – able to truly take care of each other. in this moment, they were being treated just the same as other couples seeking to be married. it was a huge moment.

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so, with the marriage license in hand, we headed back upstairs to find a place to do the simple ceremony i had planned for them. we saw a staircase with a large window behind it – the staircase was the main one in the center of the big, ornate courthouse. we decided that would be the spot.

i stood with my back to the window and they faced me, side by side. and then… the words just flowed. they answered and proclaimed their love and promises to each other. i began to choke up as i got to the pronouncement part. they were beaming. we were all gitty. and then, i said it:

“You have each chosen this common road of marriage, and from this moment forward your intentions and paths are united.  You have expressed your commitment to one another and taken to yourselves the relationship of Partners in life and solemnly promised to love, honor, comfort and cherish each other for all the days to be. So live vibrantly.  Hold fast to your ideals.  Challenge one another,  and give each other new experiences of joy.

Therefore, in accordance with the laws of North Carolina and by virtue of the authority vested in me it is my honor to declare you married,  partners in life, spouses for life.”

ahhhhh-mazing!!

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after the ceremony and filing the marriage license (my other job as minister), i walked around downtown and found myself having lunch in a cozy cafe. i just sat, beaming, feeling like i was going to explode. knowing that i was fulfilling some of the things that i am meant to do in this world.

i basked in the knowledge that i got to be part of something huge today. and i am completely humbled by the fact that i shared such a special moment in the lives of these two, inspiring women. what an incredible, incredible experience.


now,  i’ve still not come down from my high. and, i am ready to keep on celebrating. gonna have some dinner with my brother and my wife soon – both of whom are super stressed and not at all in the same place emotionally i am in tonight. hopefully i will make them feel better.

then, tomorrow, we are attending a greek orthodox wedding for our dear, sweet friends in asheville.

and, get this, i am performing another wedding ceremony on sunday – for a friend and former co-worker.

that’s right, that 3 weddings in three days. love is in the air!

light + peace xx

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what are you doing new year’s eve?

well, that’s a wrap. the last day of 2013 is upon is, and i don’t know about you, but i am ready for some serious celebrating! this year i wanna get dressed up and be all fancy & girly. i wanna dance and go to a party and ring in the new year with people all around me.

i think i’m in such a celebratory mood because 2013 has been oh so generous to me… well, my love and i have worked for it, but we’ve also expected and envisioned it. so, as we dreamed and believed, we also acted and the universe opened door after door, showering us with amazing moments. and i want to celebrate all of that. i want to shout to the world, and spread extra joy today to everyone i meet… because i am so grateful and blessed. it’s time to try to give back a little of the amazingness that has been given to me in 2013. it’s truly time to celebrate.

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all of the serious, soul-searching, reflection is done. last night i spent a few hours with candles lit, a glass of wine by my side, pens and journals open, and my soul-touching playlist playing. i reflected on the past year and envisioned and planned for the new one. i wrote on the last page of my 2013 journal and then put it away, with all of my other journals. it was a very special and meaningful ritual. but, now, these end of the year rites of passage have been completed, so the only thing left to do is dance & drink champagne!

as you read this, i am either currently on my way or already in atlanta, georgia to celebrate new year’s eve with some friends – lanie (a blogging buddy) and her girl, charlie. my love and i hit the road early, because we’ve got shopping, exploring, eating, drinking, and having fun to do before we meet up with the girls in the afternoon to begin our celebrations. and, boy do we have some celebrations planned! it’s gonna be so great! the perfect cap to one of the most amazing years (with plenty of both ups & downs) of my life.

here’s to 2014! here’s to turning 40 this year! here’s to living life & feeling alive! 

so, my friends, what are you doing for new year’s eve? 

i just had to. they’re so cute.

wishing you the happiest of new years! bring on 2014! 

peace and love. xx

asheville

nothing is weird in asheville.

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saturday night we did something that is sooooo asheville. we went to bele chere, the 35 year old street festival which has grown to become the largest of its kind in the southeast USA. unfortunately, the city of asheville, who sponsors & pays for the free festival, has said that this year was the last. booooo…. the word is that it is simply too costly for the city to continue paying for the three-day music, crafts, food, & beer festival. the streets are closed off downtown for three days, and the local businesses suffer (?) (or so i read in an article) because the vendors set up their tents in front of the stores. i any case, this weekend was the last bell chere shin dig.

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and we had a blast! we wren’t there for a super long time, but just enough time to soak up the atmosphere that i write about here on the blog all the time. yep. we were smack dab in the middle of the funky, eclectic, weird, friendly, artsy, country, urban mess of it all. the people, the music, the local beer, the street fair food. all of it was there, even the street preachers screaming that we were going to hell because we all were sinners, especially lina & me (same-sex marriage people!). and we loved every second of it.

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click on this picture to see a short video clip i made of this guy. hehe.

speaking of same-sex partners, the sheer number of same-sex couples walking hand in hand down the streets is astonishing. and so refreshing. it’s just that asheville is full of ALL kinds of people, all intermingling with each other, sharing a common love for the city and all she has to offer.

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have i said how much i love it here? how great it feels to be back? how right it is? well, i do. it does. and it is.

love, peace, & equality for all – and i mean all.

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staying true to my yellow & blue.

today is sweden’s national day – a national holiday that’s a bit like the 4th of july, but not quite so over-the-top/extreme. mother nature delivered a top notch day, perfect for doing what swedes like to do best: be outside, drink coffee, sit in parks, play, BBQ, be with family, and soak up the sun. it was super sunny all day long, and very, very warm. like i said… perfect.

we stayed home for a while, doing laundry & organizing stuff. but, then, we went to lina’s sister’s home outside of town to celebrate our youngest niece’s second birthday. it was a cozy and uncomplicated. just family, some birthday cake, a chance to catch up with each other, an evening bbq, and games/fun in the yard/pool. well, not me in the pool. the water in sweden doesn’t get bathtub warm like it does in nc. and i’m a cold water wuss.

but, instead of sharing pics of what i did to celebrate today, i thought i’d celebrate sweden’s national day with y’all by showing the two very different, but very much typical, classic sides of sweden: natural & urban. so, here come my photos from last weekend… part of it i spent in the woods and the other part i spent in the beautiful capital of sweden, stockholm.

sweden, today i celebrate you! you’re beautiful, natural, old, simple, and so inspiring. and i’m a lucky girl to be able to call you home. by the way, in case you ever wondered where my loyalty lays, here and now i confess that i am a lover of two countries and i call both of those countries home.

enjoying swedish nature at camp (with my kids from work).

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after leaving camp behind, i got on a train & headed to the big, beautiful urban city, stockholm.

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hope y’all have had a great week. it’s almost friday and the weekend is upon us! got any plans?!

peace & love.

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a little nature. a little urban. a perfect fix for my soul.

hi friends! long time, no post… huh? geez, i have missed y’all. i’ve missed writing and posting, but i have been super busy the past 4ish days. and i do believe that the busy-ness is only getting started.

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natural, woodsy liz.

this past weekend i was in the woods with the teenagers i work with from friday until sunday. oh, my nature soul was soooo very happy. the weather was quite beautiful as well. sunshine. warmth. and even a bit of cozy rain one of the evenings. we played games, had some little chat hours (i had 3 little workshops on challenging yourself, taking risks, and believing in yourself), did some BBQ-ing, watched a movie, laughed, hung out by a lake, and just enjoyed being together.

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on sunday, we left the camp in the morning and headed to the church. during the morning service, i got to serve communion (always a great, powerful honor), lead the service, recognize some of the youth, and then there was a moment that the congregation said their official “goodbye” to me (though i work until july 15, but people are gone from regular life after midsummer – june 21). it was emotional standing there with those i had worked with standing behind & around me. gaaahhh. as much as i have left places, it never ever gets easier. but, it always makes me feel grateful, amazed, and so overwhelmed to have had the experiences i have had.

as i stood there, listening to the chairperson talk, feeling the people around me, i thought about the craziness that my life has been. the amazing craziness. to get to move to sweden. learn a new language. get a job. in something i am educated for. work with really good people. and have a chance to be me, even though i am in another country. it was in that moment that i felt i needed to pinch myself, to know that i was actually this little american girl from north carolina, with big dreams and hopes, who has had an opportunity to live them out. to follow them, and watch them come true.

the only advice i have for all of you who have even the tiniest dream is to chase it! chase that soul-filling, mind-blowing, seemingly impossible dream to the ends of the earth if you have to. and be patient. sometimes it takes a while for dreams to materialize. for me, it took 15 years to get here. but, it was so worth the ride.  trust the universe. trust god. and trust in yourself.

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sunny stockholm liz.

after my work day (work weekend i guess) at church, i rushed home, jumped in the shower (because ewwwww… i had been camping for some days), and headed for the train station. yep. within a couple of hours of leaving the woods, i was on a train headed to the big city.

my love and i were off to stockholm sunday evening – monday evening. lina had an appointment at the american embassy…. to determine if she would qualify for a visa! sunday night we stayed with a friend, and since the weather was summer-like, we walked to a harbor area with a rock mountain overlooking the water and had a BBQ. it was more perfect than perfect. truly.

monday morning came, and the sun was still shining. we ate breakfast on a balcony and then headed downtown to get lina to the embassy ontime. it was a nerve-racking time, not knowing how things would turn out. things are quite complicated/weird with us… since we are 2 women, married, and bi-national. though lina was applying for a student visa and not a green card (not possible thanks to DOMA and same-sex discrimination), there was still a chance they’d question things. but…. everything went perfectly! and she was approved!

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while she was in the embassy (i could not enter and be with her), i walked. and walked. and walked. and like a tourist, i took pictures every 10 feet. it was such a great morning for me, and i felt guilty for having such a peaceful time while lina was going through an american visa interview.

after celebrating the end of the visa process together at an american restaurant in stockholm, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering, shopping, and just soaking up the beauty of the city built on islands. then, it was an early train back home and a cozy landing into my own bed after 3 nights away.

all in all, an intensive, but unbelievably amazing weekend! i took tons of photos, of course, which i will post in a few upcoming posts. but, for now, i’ll leave you. we are in 100% moving mode in our little home. time to get down to business. woo hoo!

sending you peace and love.