proof that henry david thoreau was right: how sweden inspires the imagination

“this world is but a canvas to our imagination.” ~ henry david thoreau

this morning i felt a little worried + stressed as i got on my bike to ride home after an appointment. however, i didn’t make the turn i needed to  in order to head home. instead, my bike, seemingly on its own, took me on a path by the river. before i knew it, i was headed out of town and into the countryside. ahhhh… the beautiful swedish countryside.

simple. authentic. glorious.

in sweden, when you leave the city, you are immediately in the country, surrounded by nothing but nature. it’s not like in the states, where you pass little neighborhoods or run down little areas and have to keep driving to finally get to a place where there is a state or nationally owned park where you can wander.

here, you can pretty much walk and wander anywhere. no one technically owns any land. so, after only a few minutes, i was out in the middle of nowhere, just soaking up the sun and the beauty.

i rode and rode and rode. i even talked with some people about some animals and flowers. ok, they talked, i listened. i stopped and took pictures. i just stood there and let the silence wash over me. it was so, so good for my soul. and i fell even more in love with uppsala.

there is nothing that nature cannot cure.

industrial-uppsala trees-pathway-uppsala river-walk-uppsala yellow-field-uppsala field-uppsala path-countryside-uppsala countryside-uppsala water-uppsala water-reflection-uppsala man-lookout-uppsala lookout-uppsala country-field-uppsala countryside-bike-uppsala spring-green-field-uppsala bike-country-uppsala trees-river-uppsala river-uppsala flowers-sky-uppsalaget outside, lovelies, whenever you can! i promise that you will remember what is really important.

onwards + upwards!

the perfect summer day in sweden

there are no words to really describe today. so, i’m gonna let my photos do most of the talking. i will tell you that we drove way out into the swedish countryside, to see a very dear friend – my ex-collegue/minister (from the church where i worked when i lived here). her husband passed away earlier this year, and she is adjusting to living life on her own – on their farm. we arrived at her amazing place at noon, where we immediately were welcomed with hugs and a little tour of the farm – i had never made it out there to see her when i lived here, so it was my first time. we met her cows, admired her late husband’s amazing wood workshop – where he passionately loved to work, walked through the grass, and ate a delicious vegetarian lunch outside made with veggies from the neighbors farms.

we sat and talked around the table outside in the shade for hours, listening to the amazing adventures of our friend’s mother back in the mid-1900s, as a swedish woman who refused to settle into the expected, traditional roles of wife and mother until she was good and ready. she was born in the states to parents who moved there looking for a better start, but moved back to sweden when she was 2. however, that american adventurous spirit seeped into her blood anyway.

after lots of stories, some watermelon and chocolate, and just as we were almost ready to take a little trip over to a little lake through the woods, another friend – who is close to my colleague and was such a great support for lina and me when we lived here – surprised us by showing up to join us for the rest of the afternoon.

we donned our swimsuits, prepared a fika, grabbed chairs and towels, and headed to the lake – 5 women – to enjoy this perfectly perfect swedish summer day. we sat, talked, swam, laughed, and just soaked up every little second, completely unaware of time. it was hot out, the sun was glorious, the water was crystal clear, and the trees were deep green. there were even lotus flowers blooming on lily pads. i felt as if i was enveloped in mother nature’s arms the whole time we were there – at peace, connected, grounded, and completely content. and i felt the power of the connection of women, both with these 4 women that i was with, and other women all throughout my life, including my mother and grandmothers. it was a day of celebrating feminine power, i think.

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because this day was so special, and because i will cherish all of the stories, laughter, beauty, and the women that i shared this day with for the rest of my life, i decided to mark a sacred spot with some rocks from the bottom of the lake that paige dug up with her feet. i placed my little sacred monument on the rock that led down to the water – and i left it there – as a sign of the memories and moments that were shared on this perfect swedish summer day – with four totally different, yet completely amazing in the own ways, women who have each made a significant difference in my life.

love and peace.

“it’s a long way to tipperary”. 2.0

hello! it’s road trip day! last friday (day 2 of our extended irish weekend), we woke up in dublin, and then headed down south to the county of tipperary to meet up with the soon-to-be newlyweds and other guests. we had the great luck of riding in a car with a friend of the cute couple, so it was more of a personal road trip than just hopping on a bus. fun. we left around lunchtime & were in the middle of the irish countryside on an amazing estate by mid-afternoon. check out our friday adventures!

starbucks was just around the corner from our hotel, so it was imperative that we stop by there before our road trip.

 we sipped on some yummy peppermint mocha & surfed the ‘net. we’re apple nerds.

dragging our luggage through rainy dublin. the cobblestones were super duper slippery. hehe.

hanging out on the street corner, waiting for our ride… wondering who it will be.

typical downtown street/apartments.

on our way! a glimpse of the irish countryside from the left side of the road. feels crazy to ride on the “wrong” side of the road. hehe.

backseat girls.

we’ve arrived! a gorgeous gated estate will be our home for the next 2 days. can’t wait!

welcome to lovely, amazing kilshane house. an estate, a mansion. tons of land, rolling hills, horses, gardens, a conservatory, walking trails, and an incredible, old manor with cozy, beautiful suites. (more pics tomorrow too!)

we immediately compared kilshane house with downton abbey. we felt like we were living there, complete with “servants” and everything. felt like royalty. i was overwhelmed, amazed, and so so so thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

come on in to the classy, formal entrance hall. kilshane house awaits…

after arriving, we were whisked away with the bridal couple to the rehearsal at the church. my love was asked to sing during the wedding, so she had a chance to tickle the ivories before the ceremony the next day. plus, we got to stroll around the cute village of cashel.

with the rehearsal all done, we went back to our cozy room to get dressed for dinner. yes. get dressed for dinner. perhaps we’d meet carson or some of the other downton abbey characters. hehe.

the view from our window. my eyes could hardly take in everything i was seeing. so beautiful.

our old-fashioned, updated bathroom. compete with a rainfall showerhead. luxury, baby.

when we went downstairs, we discovered that the restaurant/bar was a billiard room with tons of great big leather chairs & sofas. asheville people, i couldn’t stop thinking of biltmore estate.

gnocci (deeeelish) and cosmopolitans (double delish) for dinner. good food, good people, good times.

we ended the day with games & mingling… hanging out with the couples’ friends & family. it was a great night!

after such a fabulous day, i couldn’t even begin to imagine how the wedding day would be… and it did not disappoint. but, you’ll have to check back tomorrow to see all the pictures from the big day. think perfect weather, gorgeous people, and party, party, party!

happy wednesday, readers. peace & love.

a tiny corner of heaven on earth.

happy sunday, all you out there! here in sweden, summer continues as it has been… rainy & gray.  of course, every now & then there’s a day of brilliant sunshine and unbelievable weather. but, most days… rain. gloom. chilliness. meh. oh well. i’m gonna find a way to not complain & enjoy it. perhaps write A LOT! sounds great to me (and to lina too. gotta get that book written so we can live our dream life of traveling around the world, writing, photographing, singing, and experiencing).

well, i thought i’d take this rainy day to begin my series of posts on my camp experience in the archipelago with an introduction to camp life there. a little tour, you could say.

so, welcome to…

on my way!

i’m obsessed with the yellow fields of flowers all over sweden. so beautiful.

typical swedish highway. geez i miss driving soooo much.

this is the house you first see when you drive up. so swedish. love it. all of the meals (unless its pouring down rain) are eaten at the picnic tables in the yard. you know, the calendar shows that it’s summer, so you have to eat and be outside every waking moment you can… even if it’s chilly, windy, or sprinkling. :) darkness and cold will come again in a few months. so, we live in the moment right now.


the kitchen & dining room area. with two rooms on the 2nd floor… where i slept.

my first room: directly over the kitchen, so every morning i woke to the conversations of the group preparing breakfast. hehe.

my second room: soooo cozy. we moved around because people came & went, and it’s all about sharing, right?


 little cabins that some of the families stayed in. cute cute cute!

 loving the clothes & towels hanging on the front porches of the cabins.

 boathouse. a place of solitude.

preparing for the first campfire. we met here nightly for songs, games, grilling, & fun.

 the swimming area. a super popular place. and the only place you can get mediocre phone reception. hehe.

so, there you go. a little corner of heaven in the swedish archipelago. a place to get back to simplicity, a place to live in community filled with tons of opportunities for laughter & conversation, and also a place to find a few moments of quiet contemplation. for my love, it is a piece of her history. a symbolic place of peace, family, friends, & love throughout her life. for me, it has become a place of rest and a place which i am longing to visit again in the summer of 2013.

yes, skeppsgårds camp has found it’s way into my heart.

peace & beauty.

spending saturday in the woods.

i had no idea how much i needed to get back to nature. ok. perhaps i did. i’ve been longing for it for quite some time, but i wasn’t associating this trip with getting back to nature. i was only thinking of it as work. good work, but work.

until i got there and saw this.

and suddenly i could breathe. i looked around and realized that it was just me & all this beauty around me, and yet i wan’t alone. the trees, the birds, the dirt, the flowers… they always provide me with such company. and i feel grounded. centered. calm. then i realized that i’d be in the midst of this for the next 36 hours. perfect. i was no longer just focused on the work that i would do, but on the fact that i was doing my work in the middle of nature… so this was my time to soak up the simple, organic life for a while. so perfect.

it was a busy, intense, and yet relaxed 36 hours filled with games, fun, quiet moments, rain, sunshine, mud, storms, bugs, water, campfires, food, coffee, devotions, walks, laughter, music, chats, not so much sleep, 16 unbelievably amazing teenagers, and some incredible adults.

this is what i get paid for, people. anyway, here are some shots of a fantastic weekend in the woods.

and so the first day came to a close. to be continued…


sunday night pep talk.

lina and i were discussing tonight the next 2 weeks and all that we face. it’s crazy. both of us, in our work, have so much packed into the rest of april. stuff that will eventually turn out good, but for now, seems like a crapload of stuff that will suck us dry. i thought spring was supposed to be the time when we felt more energized, excited, and full of life. right now, though, all i’m feeling is exhausted even before all the insanity begins. and speaking of spring, what’s the deal with the weather in sweden this year? i know i sound like a broken record, but i seriously cannot take the cold anymore. my love and i have begun discussing warm, tropical places where we can relocate. not really. we’re dreaming. but, this cold & gray spring has got to go. at least if my stress level is high, nature could send me some beautiful days to help make things more bearable. i know i sound overly-dramatic. and i am. but, i truly am in need of some warm sunshine and i am truly freaked out about the next 2 weeks (let’s not even get started on what comes after that). a tropical island sounds like paradise right now.

anyway, with all that negativity building inside of me, i realize that i gotta get busy with my yoga. hard core. and writing. and i gotta focus only on the present moments. you know, live in the now. that reminds me, perhaps i should pick up that “the power of now” book i’ve started, but never finished. sounds like exactly what i need to help me focus. that and my love… she’s so wonderful. today we had a crazy laughing spell that lasted quite a while, but it felt so good. freeing. laughter… it’ll cure those stressed-out blues as good as anything.

the other wonderful thing about today was, that in the midst of all the rainy, cold days, mother nature delivered some semi-warm, beauty today. and i had a chance to ride in a car out to the countryside, catching a glimpse of fields, massive amounts of sky, puffy clouds, and sunshine. just what the doctor ordered. thank you, dear mother nature.

 a snapshot of the swedish countryside from a fast moving car. hehe.

after a birthday party out in the countryside, when lina & i got back to town, we couldn’t stay inside…. it was still so beautiful out. so, we took a long, leisurely walk around the city.

tonight, as i prepare for the upcoming weeks, i feel the pressure mounting. but, i know deep inside, that in all circumstances, i am not alone and that everything will be perfectly fine. it’s time to get my procrastinating ass in line and bust on through these weeks, support my love through her tasks, and keep my eye on the prize: paris for a long weekend in mid-may! the tickets have been bought. oh yeah.

so, i’m off to sleep now, even though i’m not ready to face tomorrow. but, come what may, monday will arrive and i will tackle it and all it has to bring. i think i’ll make a list and work through it to make sure i accomplish everything, and to reward myself every time i strike off an accomplishment. yep. that sounds like a plan.

for now, i’ll end by wishing you a cozy sunday night and by asking you to send good vibes to my little home here in sweden. enjoy the rest of the weekend, because right around the corner are tons of possibilities and opportunities. and with each others’ support, we’ll make it through.

strength and peace.