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the one thing i love about easter in sweden

easter in sweden is a big deal. not necessarily because of the religious reasons, but because it is a long weekend holiday, and the first real celebration in the spring. like the united states, easter is right up there with christmas. there are traditions, decorations, and typical swedish things that you can count on seeing and/or doing every year.

i’ve spent quite a few easters in sweden… i think this was my 5th, and i knew exactly what to expect. time may have passed, and situations in life may have changed, but this holiday, this little break in regular, everyday life, remains an important time in swedish society.

my easter this year began on friday morning, as my love and i enjoyed a quiet, slow morning at home. then we hopped on a train and headed south to norrköping to lina’s parents’ home. we made it by dinner time + sat outside in their new sunroom through sunset and until the full moon had risen high in the sky. on good friday, it is expected that you don’t do much of anything – a tradition in respect of the day of jesus’ death. even though most people in sweden don’t really observe good friday.

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saturday, the traditional weird day between good friday and easter, is filled with a buzz here in sweden. though, it’s a buzz only with food + family here. nothing else. our saturday was pretty calm, even though it was busy – kind of. a long, lazy morning with lots of coffee + breakfast. meal preparations. a big 14 person lunch. lots of candy (from the easter eggs children get). a mid-afternoon fika. more relaxing, talking, and sitting around the table. pizza dinner. and then bed.

sitting around the table, eating, talking, and catching up is something that swedes do every well. it is highly possible to go from one meal to a fika to another little meal, and never leave the table. it was something i had hard time with when i first lived in sweden years ago, being a short-attention-span american. but, i have grown to enjoy the long, drawn-out meals where you really, really connect and enjoy each others’ company.

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on easter sunday, we began the morning slowly again, but left for church in the late morning. we visited the church where i used to work, and filled with people that lina grew up with. it was so very nice to hug some necks and catch up with friends and co-workers and other members. i have to say, we were treated like little celebrities when we walked in – what a boost to one’s ego. hehe. of course, after the service we had fika and chatted with even more people. it was really great to reconnect with some very amazing, inspiring people from our former life in sweden.

then, in the afternoon, we headed to lina’s aunt + uncles’ house for a birthday dinner for lina’s cousin who’s turning 25. there were about 17 of us or so. another amazing family meal of sitting around the table and catching up. as you can tell, it’s all about quality time together here in sweden.

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in the evening, lina and i hopped a bus back to uppsala. it was a long ride and we arrived close to 11pm. but that didn’t stop us from meeting up with lina’s brother for a drink at a nearby bar. he wasn’t with us for easter because he was with his fiancées family. it was a great way to wind down after a social weekend away, and transition back to being home.

easter monday is a holiday here, so everyone was still off from work. lina and i stayed home all day – minus a quick walk to the grocery store. doing what we love to do. and just being.

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so, in my opinion, easter in sweden is all about one thing: simplicity. it’s all about simply spending time together and enjoying that time with good food and relaxation. it is a fantastic little break in the everyday grind. and something that makes the swedish society so amazing. it’s  the ability to just slow down and just be for a sustained period of time – without needing to be entertained by something fancy. just some food and some people and perhaps a chance to enjoy nature a bit. for a whole weekend. something that many people (americans) could learn to do better. whether you are involved with a big family or there are only two of you, it’s all about stopping for a moment just to enjoy… well, life.

hope you had a lovely weekend, and celebrated in just the way that you wanted + needed.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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meditation mondays: it feels like everything can begin now

I had this feeling of letting go.

On Saturday, I sat on the floor, meditating, and I felt that it was time to let go of Asheville. Not that Asheville is not still the place where my heart feels full, because it is. But, to let go of the ways that I am trying to hold onto my life there. It is time to let go of all of the moments that I spend here, in Sweden, imagining what is going on there, in Asheville. That time has passed. That old life is over and a new life, a new way of living is beginning.

As I meditated, my mind was filled with revelations that I was following the Easter weekend pattern in my own life. I ended my life in Asheville. I have mourned the loss and live in the uncertainty of limbo + confusion, and suddenly, without knowing what was happening, realized that a new opportunity, a new life was truly waiting for me to grab it and begin.

And with that realization of Good Friday’s loss, Holy Saturday’s confusion + solemness, and Easter Sunday’s good news of a crazy, amazing new life. I felt a shift inside of me. A ending of the wandering and a preparedness to move on. I felt like everything can begin now.

What happened during my meditation was acceptance. Acceptance that the most powerful moment is the present moment – especially when we are aware + paying attention to it. And that acceptance has helped me move from mourning to life. A completely unknown life, but a way of knowing that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

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And right now actually is all about the unknown. It’s about leaping in to a way of living that cannot even be imagined yet. It cannot be planned, and must be allowed to simply unfold. And all of that stuff from the past? All of the old ways of being + living + relating + thinking + believing… it’s time to leave all of that behind as well.

Going back to Easter… think about those disciples who suddenly realized that Jesus was not actually dead. That he was living, though he was leaving, and he was giving them – the men + the women – a mission. All was not lost as the followers had believed + felt. As the had dwelling in the past, dazed + confused, they now understood that they had a chance at a whole new life, with a whole new purpose. Something that they could have never, ever dreamed would happen. They had no idea what this new, amazing future looked like, but that didn’t matter. They knew, in that moment when they encountered Jesus, that something was different. So, now, it was time to get a move on! Newly inspired + energized – the past was behind them, and from now on, it was time to look ahead.

It is the same for us… it is the same for me, now, as I consider leaving my past behind + accepting the unknown future that lies ahead of me. It is time to live in the present moment, anticipating a bright, new shiny opportunities + possibilities. Now, that does not mean throwing away all that has happened in the past. No, not at all. It means, pulling it all together in our souls, holding it there, cherishing it all, knowing that all of the past makes us who we are right in the moment. But, it’s time to step forward. Keeping the old ways part of our history and our story. And with the comfort of the memories and feelings and thoughts and lessons and loves, look ahead with courage + empowerment. What lies ahead is not something that is within our comfort zone, but a life that is bigger + better than we could ever imagine. Deeper. Higher.

Of course, all of this can feel amazing + scary at the same time. Like… “Wow! What an opportunity! I feel totally blessed, as if I am overflowing with inspiration and energy.” It can also feel like, “What the hell have I done? When will things begin to make sense? Why aren’t things changing? This is not at ALL what I had in mind!”.

But, this is how it goes with change + transformation + growth.

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Remember what I said at the beginning of the blog post? How I described how I was feeling? it’s a cycle, my friends. And it occurs over and over again in our lives. It’s how life flows. And if we are aware + grounded, then we do not freak out as we flow along with life.

So, we have Good Friday’s all of the time. Days/years/times in life when we know that we have lost everything. When the way that intended it turned out completely wrong. When it feels like our plans, or even our selves, have died. Like it’s all over. Everything changed.

And then, like Holy Saturday, we mourn. We feel lost. We don’t know what comes next. It’s dark and lonely. And, after a while, we accept what has happened and realize that we have to keep on keeping on.

But, just when we are there, right when we realize that life is rolling on without us and we’d better get back in the game, a sliver of light pierces our darkness. Something inspires us. Spring returns. Life begins again. The view after the climb is breathtaking. And we can see clearly now all that we did not understand before. We have grown. We have changed. And we step out, filled to the brim with inspiration + love + peace, so much so that they all begin spilling out of us and onto everyone we meet. Easter Sunday arrives.

And then, the whole thing happens all over again.

“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

onwards + upwards! xx

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death + life + a powerful moon

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Tonight, on this mournful, soulful Good Friday, a full moon rises + a lunar eclipse graces the night sky. And with it comes another cosmic time of great power + opportunity for change. However strong and amazing the change may be, we may also feel in the dark – if you’re like me, than you feel the shift, you know there’s a huge change, but you have no idea what changes are coming. Much like the disciples of Jesus on the night of his death. 

  

The good news is that the only thing we need to do is to intend with our heart and our spirit to allow for the most positive change possible and be willing to go through the discomfort of the ups and downs of the unexpected events that are surely right around the corner. Scary + unsettling? Oh yeah. There is so much in life, and in death, that we don’t understand. 

But, if we simply slow down enough to allow ourselves a chance to breathe + soak in the energy, if we find a way trust in the power of the cycle of the universe, and are crazy enough to believe that all things work for good, that love ultimately wins, then we will be amazed at the transformation that we experience. And we will come to know first hand that even the darkest night ends with the light of the sun. 

This is an exciting and scary and incredible day, but it is one that opens to a new experience of living life at a higher + deeper level. Just imagine the heartbreak and confusion of the followers of Jesus. The one person that they put all of their hopes in, their hero, the one who had come to make a difference and make miracles happen had just been killed in the most horrible + embarrassing of ways. They must have been beyond grief, past confusion, and somewhere on the way to giving up on any hope. It was the darkest of darks. One of those “nothing will make this better” kinds of moments. And yet, they gathered together to help each other through. What else could they do? And somewhere, I believe, in that gathering + clinging to each other, they help in a sliver of hope. They did not give up completely.

So, don’t you give up either. Surround yourself with friends and community this weekend, and celebrate spring and all things new. And, by all means, check out the glorious moon tonight. Be ready for change, dream big, set your intentions, stay faithful, and rejoice. Life begins anew!

Onwards + upwards! xoxo