on the anniversary of my tattoo: how i learned it was all about me

i used to think that the purpose of life was to do all that you can to help others.

the reason we were here was to love + be of service to others, to make the world a better place. even if that meant losing your self a bit. i believed that we were here to sacrifice and give and serve until everyone was able to live in freedom. free from poverty, homelessness, violence, fear, hate. it was part of our calling, our reason for being. our co-creation with the divine energy of the universe is what would help to create a better world, a world that was meant to be as beautiful and peaceful and just as possible.

i distinctly remember thinking specifically about mother teresa every single day. wondering how i could be more like her. or like martin luther king junior. or any revolutionary, peacemaker, or spiritual guru who lived life so passionately that they would even sacrifice their life for the good of humanity. risking their safety in order to stick to their message.

i wanted to be like them all. i wanted that passion. that fearlessness. that committment. i felt that if i could not live up to them, then my life would be a waste.

i am certain that some of my belief in an extreme life of service has been inherited and passed down from my puritan/wesleyan/methodist ancestors. in great britain, their hope was to reform the corrupted church of england, to create a faith that was focused not only belief (personal holiness), but on social holiness too (social activism). they stressed that there is no faith if there is no care for the poor, the outcast, the sick. who jesus called “the least of these.” true faith was faith that was lived out. it wasn’t memorized or celebrated on sundays only. yes, learning and growing and personal faith was one part of the spiritual equation. but, from all of that personal holiness, grew works of mercy and love. social justice. in other words: we should really, truly, honestly practice what we preach. like. for. real.

these beliefs and practices were, of course, spread and put into action in the colonies when my ancestors made their way from great britain to the new world, in search for a place where they could create a home and a community that reflected the balance of personal and social holiness.

me coffee cup

so, this balance runs through my blood. it explains to me my deep desire for personal growth, transformation and my dreams of making a difference in the world.

i still believe in this balance, in this way of living. in fact, i still believe that balancing a personal spirituality and a life of social activism is the kind of life we are meant to live. but, over the years as i have grown and explored and discovered, i realize that i had one huge part of it all wrong.

what i had all wrong was the order of everything.

when i was so obsessed with mother teresa and MLK, i felt such pressure to do the same things that they did. and i never thought i’d be able to be like them and do what they did. but, oh how i wanted to. i had no idea how to balance a personal, self-centered spirituality and rid the world of poverty or end racism at the same time. how was it possible to focus on my self if there was so much that needed to be fixed? tackling the big issues of inequality and injustice would take all of my (and others) time. there was no time to sit still and be with myself. there was so much to do!

do. do. do. do. do. and i had no idea where to begin. and, i set myself up for failure with all of this pressure to do as much as i could for everyone else. funny thing was, i don’t think i actually did anything. i just fretted about doing stuff and tried to figure out what stuff to do.

i soon realized that i wasn’t an activist like mother teresa or MLK. i was a contemplative. but, anytime i would retreat to my safe place, to where my soul felt alive, i felt guilty. those things that made my soul sing, that gave me those mountaintop moments, always involved words, images, books, studies, classrooms, nature, travels, cultures. i felt wild + free + inspired when i went camping. or when i sat in a workshop. or when i read the words of an ancient mystic. i felt connected and grounded when i lit a candle or said a prayer or sat in silence.

but, none of this was doing anything. and all of these things were all about me.

me. me. me. me. me. me. me. how selfish was this? and what was wrong with me that i felt more “spiritual” by being with myself than by volunteering in a soup kitchen?

so, for years, i struggled and battled with myself and with god. feeling ashamed one minute and completely inspired the next.

me meditate

and then, over the course of a year or so, it all made sense. no it did not happen overnight. it took a year to begin to understand. and about 8 years to discover how to live it.

but, one night, as i sat in a room with 11 other women discussing a chapter about radical discipleship (you know the type of person i wanted to be. MLK, mother teresa, julian of norwich, etc.), i uncovered something that struck me like a bolt of lightening.

according to the book we were reading, being was way more important that doing. or at least it was the starting point. the foundation.

 to do things without first getting connected + grounded + inspired simply means that we are doing empty deeds. perhaps they are to make ourselves look good, or to get into heaven, or whatever. but, that’s not the point. that doesn’t make us good people or radical disciples or saviors of the world.

the point is, that in order to do anything, we first have to be. to simply get attached. grounded. we have to have a sense of self. we have to know who we are. we have to listen to our soul. we have to make it all about “me”.

that’s not how many of us think, though. and it doesn’t even make sense. especially because it seems selfish. everything in society teaches us to not think about ourselves, but to only care what other people think and the things that we do. that’s what defines us and makes us important. how much we do for others is what makes us “good people”.  so, how could it actually be the other way around?

how could being focused on inner self be the way to help others?!

well, i let this belief begin to sink in a little bit over a long period of time, and i realized that this is exactly what my ancestors passed on to me. this was the personal holiness part of the equation. although it’s no equation. and it’s definitely not linear or hierarchical. instead, it’s just an eternally flowing circle.

when we begin with being, with slowing down to simply be with ourselves and listen to our soul, then we are filled with inspiration, we feel power that we already have, we discover who we really are, we get in touch with that mystical spirit that connects us all. and all of those radical, good deeds that end up causing people to change the world? well, they simply flow + grow out of us. like the leaves on a vine branch. only we are not the leaves, we are the branch. our job is to just be. to stay attached.

positivity, healing, love, peace, calm – it all just begins to flow because we are attached to the source of all things, to the universe, to god. we allow ourselves to be open, and we find that special thing that makes us who we are. and we can’t help but use it. it just happens. naturally. organically.

in other words, being helps us discover our personal legend. our personal destiny. our calling. and from that, we become superhero on a mission to save the world.

me cup of coffee tattoo vine

when i first grabbed onto this idea of being before doing, i decided to get a tattoo. a vine that wraps around my wrist to symbolize staying grounded + attached. thanks to Facebook, i saw a post this morning that said that i got that tattoo 8 years ago today. and i just couldn’t believe how my life just keeps aligning with the flow.

you see, on monday, i began a year long course to get a certification in sat nam rasayan – a meditation technique out of kundnalini yoga that focuses on healing by being fully present. my guru lady teachers told us that, in order to be fully present and open in sat nam rasayan, it all begins by focusing on ourselves, on using our senses to help us allow and feel everything that is happening around us.

it’s the opposite of emptying your mind and focusing on someone else. it’s about creating a space so big and free and peaceful that it spreads out to everyone, everywhere. it’s about learning to hold that space open and become a stable, safe presence. in no way do we focus on any other person but ourselves. we don’t sense what another person feels or imagine what someone else thinks, we simply practice being. but, by being fully present in ourselves, we change the world.

so, there you go. it’s all about me. it’s all about you.

that was the behind-the-scenes spirituality that my young adult heroes had. i only saw or read about the great things that they did. what i didn’t see was the personal spirituality that was the foundation of the amazing affects they had on the world.

that was exactly what my ancestors were trying to explain: the necessity of living a balanced life, focused on a strong, grounded personal spirituality, coupled with active, outward-focused social activism.

with that knowledge, friends, you and i are just as empowered and amazing as ghandi and malala. we are just as much of a humanitarian rockstar as bono, or an ambassador as angelina jolie. we are just as important and inspiring as rosa parks and stephen hawking. and we are simply carrying on the same messages that our ancestors have shared throughout history. 

so, get down on that mat and breathe deep. or find a corner to pray in. light a candle and just be with yourself. create a daily ritual of just being. and soon, your soul will guide you. and simply being exactly who you are will make a difference in this world. i promise.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

how i discovered i was in real deep…

lately i’ve had a few days where i look in the mirror and think to myself as i twist + turn to catch a glimpse of all of my sides, “yep. i feel pretty damn good today.”

are there things to work on? yes, definitely. are there things that i feel not so great about? of course! but, i’m not focused on those things. the overriding feeling is one of power, peace, and pride.

i have no idea where all of this has come from, but i have been dwelling in those feelings for about a week now. and giving mucho thanks-o to the universe for feeling like this. i’m not sure that i have ever felt this… well, confidence and security in myself…. like this before.

me summer 2015

but, when i dig a bit deeper, i begin to uncover where all this just may be coming from.

i have been on an inner spiritual journey since moving to sweden. i’ve been social and had fun and all of that, but i have been doing a lot of inner work. i didn’t really choose to do it, it just has happened.

many of you may know that i am the queen of being. it’s right there, first, in my blog name. be. i can relax with the best of them. i thrive on meditating, soaking up, sitting still, kicking back, sleeping, having long fikas (coffee), gazing at the moon and the stars. i have definitely learned a lot about the art of living in the present moment and being aware. and this is something for which i am super grateful.

i am living a very connected, grounded, aware, peaceful life right now. and that empowers me.

but, the word empower suggests something:  a c t i o n .

and, little did i know it, but there is some action that has begun to surface in my life. it’s called aligning.

i have talked about living an authentic life on my blog before. living life true to yourself, aligning yourself with your purpose, yadda yadda. but, i realize now, that i have been talking about it – not really doing it. that’s not a bad thing, however. i needed to preach it till i reached it.

what i mean, is that all of this talk and thought about alignment has somehow led me to the place of actually beginning to align my life with who i am called to be. my purpose or destiny or whatever you want to call it. it’s really about beginning to not just think about my passions, but to actually live them. to let those passions, which i have discovered by going inward, begin to slipp out into my life.

so, i’ve been shifting and moving from an inner, contemplative focus to an outer, physical one. the changes that have been occurring and growing inside of me, from my soul, are beginning to sprout forth a like a seed in the spring. or, since it is almost autumn here, i could use the analogy that i am beginning to reap what i have sown. i am gathering in the harvest to be used and shared.

basically, folks, shit is happening in my life. and boy, am i in deep.

i’ve crossed a threshold and there is no turning back. i carry all of my meditative, contemplative ways of being with me throughout everyday (because that is how i breathe and stay connected), but a shift has occurred and now i’m all about action.

literally, what has been feeling good and secure on the inside, is now showing up on the outside.

i am taking my inner life and letting it be on display on the outside. all of the energy and peace that i have felt on the inside is now seeping out, ready to make its mark on the world in a whole new way.

this aligning, this matching my inner world and my outer world, is gonna take some time though. it’s not an overnight thing, but a slow, steady transformation that i am experiencing. still, there will be bursts of action, and i have already taken some very specific steps which are thrusting me forward into who i want to be and where i want my life to go (more on that later). i’m committed and i’m in deep.

in the meantime, I’m gonna stand in front of my mirror, take a deep breath and smile as i look at what i see, and then remind myself to get to work.

onwards + upwards!! xoxo

seek and you will find.

it’s friday, my loves, and i just wanted to share a little thought with you as you begin your weekend…


call it karma. call it the universe. call it whatever. but, seek and will you find. i truly believe that. when you seek with your heart, when you listen to your soul, when you are true to yourself, you will find that all the pieces fall into place. not in exactly the way you had planned or imagined necessarily, but in a way that ends up seeming like it was meant to be when you look back.

right now i am in the midst of a lot of processes. a lot of things that are outside of my control. there are things that i dream about, things i must do in order to make those dreams come true, and then i have to sit back and wait… for instance, my love is still fighting to work on living life and feeling better. we’re applying for an apartment that we loooove and waiting to hear if we get it. we’re waiting on the visa process. i’m looking for a job which pays the bills and satisfies my soul. i’m finishing up work here. there are so many things right now that i am not in complete control of. i do all i can, and then i release it to the universe. and wait. yeah, it’s not easy. not at all. but, i know, i feel, that i am following my soul and my dreams, and so i trust. i trust the universe. i trust the process. and i trust that things will, in the end, be better than i ever imagined. come what may.

so, sit back. breathe. seek with all your soul. and trust the universe. trust life to work out all things our for your good. it is a balance of being, trusting, and doing. in no way do i mean that we just sit back and wait for things to happen. we must be active, co-workers in our life. the sitting back part is how we get in touch with our soul, how we know what our dreams are. and then, we make things happen. we take steps. we make decisions. we put ourselves out there, try new things, take risks, leave our comfort zones. and we patiently (or not so patiently. hehe.) wait for our life, our journey to unfold before our eyes. we trust the journey. and we keep seeking, knowing that what we seek… peace, love, happiness, wholeness, whatever… is seeking us too.

love & peace, peeps.

gettin’ down to business. belovelive is on facebook!


image from here.

it’s time to get serious. and i have some pretty serious dreams. as i said before, it feels like 2013 is a year to embrace adventure all over the place and to embrace my free-spirited-ness. what that means is, it’s time to make more dreams come true! and to live it up. i feel like celebrating every day – even when there’s nothing to celebrate, or when i feel not-so-great. still, there is this excited, balanced, peaceful, carefree feeling inside me. i feel like stuff is gonna happen. or that it is happening.

if you know me (here or in the “real world”), then you know i love writing, photography, blogging, and travel. and you know that it is my biggest dream to make all of these into my career, my way of making money. well, it’s time to become that which i want. it’s just time. i feel it.

i have a friend who has asked if he can “feature” my blog at his restaurant, and if i can freelance/volunteer to be part of a visionary group for his business. he wants to have people with “deep souls” around him as he casts a new vision & mission for his restaurant, and since i have this blog, he thinks that it would be a great match. i don’t know much more about it, only that we’re gonna meet about once a week (and include other people too) and begin talking about our collaboration. so so so cool. and a beginning of something.

inspired by my friend & his suggestion to me, i decided it was time for my blog, belovelive, to have it’s own facebook page. on it, i want to connect with more people. post my blog posts. post photos i have taken for others, and make things a little bit more professional than my private facebook timeline. i am hoping to meet more people, get tons of likes, and work even harder to make this dream come true.

it’s just time, ya know? the stars are lining up, or something. the universe is opening up. and i am ready to grab hold of my dreams.

i love the quote in the image above because it says, “decide what to be” instead of “decide what to do”. ‘cuz it’s really about being who we are creatd to be… not just doing something. it’s about having a purpose, not just doing things. when there is purpose behind what we do = being who we are, then life has much more meaning. so, i’m not gonna worry about or decide what i want/need to do. i’m gonna focus on who i need/want to be. and when i am simply true to myself, then all that i do will be meaningful.

yep. i’m gonna get out there and be me. all over the place. i’m gonna make my dreams come true. it’s time, once again.

now, i ask you togo on over to my facebook page & “like” it. check it out, and hopefully you will feel a little inspiration and pass it along to people in your life.

like my page on Facebook by clicking the image.

like my page on Facebook by clicking the image.

 what are your dreams? who do you want to be? 

peace & love.

on my plate.

my american-inspired sunday brunch on my plate today: scrambled eggs, bacon, & a clementin/tangerine.

well, my picture is literally what i had on my plate today; but i’ve also got a lot on my plate, figuratively speaking. a lot on my mind. lots of different things that take up space & time in my brain, causing me to loose focus sometimes. competing for attention. when i get so much on my mind, i can tend to lose myself in some way or another. at least that was how it was in my past life. but, i believe i learned that lesson (the hard way, of course). just having that awareness now makes it that much easier to not let that happen again.

instead, when i become aware of myself sliding back into the routine of feeling like i’m all over the place, i stop myself. take a breath. and do something that reconnects me with who i am. it also helps that my amazing wife is aware of my tendencies to forget myself, so she is constantly supporting, pushing, & challenging me to take care of myself, to enjoy the things that i love, to stay in touch with my soul. what an amazing wife!

anyway, after a pretty intense & busy week, ending with working at my old internship place last night until 2:00 am (the internship where i work with all kinds of teenagers out in the city), i was completely exhausted. i slept a little later than usual, but not so late. i enjoyed a lazy morning in bed and then made myself an american brunch just to celebrate my american-ness. this afternoon, i started to feel a headache creeping up, still felt drunkly tired from working so late, and within 30 minutes my headache was a full-blown migraine. you know, the kind where it hurts to look at any light or move your head in any direction kind of migraine. luckily my love got me a little medicine, and took care of me. at home this evening, my headache has completely disappeared, but i’m still taking it easy.

i am certain that my body has been speaking to me today…. saying for me to slow down. to take some hours to completely shut off and do nothing. so, i’m going to bed early, and planning a day of quiet rest tomorrow morning. gonna spend some relaxing time with my love later in the afternoon & then head with her to a musical tomorrow night. before that, nothing. i need to shut off my brain & my body. i’m listening to the little wake-up call i had today.

i’ve read 2 books in the past 2 weeks – not something i regularly do, and one of them has been amazing…. “traveling with pomegranates”. i am certain that i was meant to read it at this time in my life. the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. i have a lot of notes & comments in the margins, so i’m gonna write them down & expand on them in my journal. i’m gonna meditate/do some yoga. i’m gonna drink lots of coffee and tea. perhaps watch a little downtown abbey, and sit in bed for hours.

it’s so important to remember to tap into my soul, to remember that i am free… free to be me.

so, though i have a lot on my plate, i feel like i’m balancing it all well. feels good to listen to what my soul needs. feels amazing to stay connected with myself. besides, what good am i to myself or to anyone else, if i don’t take care of me? for, it is only when i am still & silent that i can be emptied, and then filled again… ready to share myself with those i love and meet. it’s this little thing calling “being”. simply being who i was created to be. me. and when i tap into my being, then my doing naturally follows.

[spotify id=”spotify:track:48guj5CibeXwLtcyLj3I1q” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

hope you find a little time to be free, to just be you, this next week. thoughts of love & peace coming your way…

on being present. here & now.

sometimes, something comes along at just the right moment. call it karma, providence, serendipity, luck, whatever. somehow it just happens… it’s a mystery. a sacred, secret, wonderful mystery how these things happen. but they do. and just when i needed it most, in the midst of all the hustle & bustle in my life, & in my head, i stumbled onto this quote. i’ll not say anything more about it, just pass it along to each of you to soak in as you feel…

“by living deeply in the present moment we can understand the past better and prepare for a better future.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

a little challenge for us all: when you find yourself today dwelling on the past or living too far into the future with plans and anxiety, remember to be in the moment and savor right then and there all that life, the universe  has given you. just be.

wishing you balance & peace. ♥