autumn: the season filled with the most important things

it’s finally here. yippee!

the cozy season of autumn is upon us. it’s the season of turning inward. of coming inside. of harvesting + giving thanks for what has been. of planting seeds (literally and figuratively) that will burst forth next spring. and all the while, though the darkness grows more and more until the winter solstice, and it feels if all the nature is sleeping, there is much that is happening, though we cannot see it. it is the time of the year to dig down + deep. and to let our souls rest, plan, and feel inspired. working towards that next phase in our lives, whatever it may be.

sunset autumn trees

and today, on this day, we have a moment of perfect balance to inspire our reflections and deams. the amount of light + dark is spread out completely evenly throughout the day. what a magical day to think about the balance in our lives. to observe how we are living. to become aware. to see where we have been + what we have done, and to look forward to what we want to manifest and make happen in our lives.

of course, the opposite is happening in the southern hemisphere, the light is returning and life is beginning to burst forth. nevertheless, the balance is evident and present in the south as well.

it’s just such a perfectly sacred time of the year for everyone to pause for just a moment.

mountains autumn

to celebrate the onset of this favorite time of year of mine, i thought i’d do a little autumn-inspired q + a. my love shared her thoughts about the season on her blog the other day, so i decided i’d steal the idea from her and do a little sharing of my own.

What do you imagine when you think of fall?

i imagine leaves lining the streets + sidewalks: red, gold, orange, brown. crisp blue skies. bright sunshine. the mountains filled with colors. a cozy feeling. the chance to go indoors + inward – perfect for a contemplative like myself.

maxwell street autumn zola coffee blankets

asheville downtown autumn

What’s the worst with fall?

right now the worst with fall is that i am not in north carolina. i know i am supposed to be in the present moment, but that’s just how it is. plus, it is considerably darker and rainier in sweden than in north carolina. so much so that people usually leave town for a week or so, if they’ve saved up any vacation time. i miss my beloved mountains. and while my love + i are determined to create the traditions + moments that we miss, it’s not the same. i miss my family + friends. pity party over now.

the bywater

And what’s the best with fall?

the traditions! the holidays! including my birthday! and halloween, and all saint’s day cemeteries in sweden, and thanksgiving, and the beginning of christmas decorating. there is so much to celebrate! (and see above answer to understand the bittersweet part of all of this).

me lina birthday autumn

carving pumpkins

Your fall outfit?

here are some of my staples: jeans. t-shirt + sweater. boots. scarves. finger gloves. colored tights. black skirt.

pumpkin beer

What do you have on your to do-list?

celebrate all of those awesome holidays. light candles like crazy. drink chai latte. binge on netflix. gather leaves + berries. celebrate turning 41. take walks. start my life coach class. carve a pumpkin. choose a kick ass costume for halloween. host a halloween party. host thanksgiving. read books. take photos. makes videos. have a home retreat. find some pumpkin beer in sweden! (there has to be some somewhere). make soups (and chili). hang more cozy twinkle lights.

vegetables autumn me halloween dark wig river autumn asheville

How to you treat fall “depression”?

see the above answer. hehe.

Best music for rainy days?

i’m a playlist kind of girl, and i’ve been creating one every single month for the past year. here are the ones that i have published already. but, be sure to follow me on spotify + then you will see october + novermber’s playlists when they come out this year.

september 2014

september 2015

october 2014

november 2014

What TV-series are the best to watch?

this is easy! the walking dead. grey’s anatomy. game of thrones (we are just starting that one!).

Your most fall-ish meal?

i’m gonna have to say our thanksgiving meal. it’s just such a classic american thing that has been a part of my life forever. and one of my favorite meals of all! if you’re not american, then you may not quite get this, but… i mean: turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows. green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, corn pudding, cranberry sauce (which i hate, but i still have to have it on my thanksgiving table), bread, stuffing. good lord, my tummy is grumbling. only 2 months left!


the other dish that i love to prepare is homemade chili. i probably make it different every single time, but that’s ok. the best is to have it on a chilly, rainy day. and after it’s been sitting and cooking for hours. serve it with lots of cheese + nacho chips for dipping. or homemade french fries (for dipping as well. is hat weird?).

Any trips planned?

we actually have no trips planned until possibly next spring. at least we don’t think we will go anywhere this fall… but you never know! and while my wanderlust is out of control and i would hop on a plane to anywhere right now, i know that it’s not possible right this very minute. and it really is ok. i’ve got plenty to keep me busy with work, lina’s health, traditions, holidays, and just soaking up autumn in uppsala- i am sure it will be beautiful, and that some of my homesickness will be abated.

mountain road autumn

but, do we ever have trips on the brain! paris in the spring (my cousin just moved there!). berlin sometime next year to visit our f reminds’ new apartment + another american friend who just moved there. dublin to visit our dear friends + their new little dumpling. and THE STATES next summer. good thing we live in europe and get lots of vacation time + can go to 3 of 4 of those places for just a long weekend.

dream trips for as soon as it is possible (after these other trips are taken care of): india. bali. tokyo.

How do you prepare for winter?

stock up on candles! buy + forage decorations for all of the holidays. make christmas lists. peruse pinterest. plan blog posts. begin to plan goals and a word for the coming year. bring out blankets. buy some mulled wine. work on a photography book for 2015. hang even more cozy twinkle lights.

photo album christmas lights

as i’ve been preparing this post, i have had a revelation. i now know exactly why autumn is the best time of year for me. it is the season that highlights  all of the most important things to me:

nature, family, traditions, holidays, balance, darkness, light, home, coziness/contemplative times.

now i get it. this is the season that includes all of those things that touch my soul the most. and no matter where i am, i can carry that feeling with me. i can create three months of autumn coziness exactly as i want them. there is no person or place stopping me. it may not be the same, but it will only be added memories + traditions + moments to my life, making it that much richer.

it is a magical time of the year where anything can happen. the changes inspire us to expand and reset.

so, as the days grow ever shorter, as darkness creeps over the land and fills the sky once again, i know that in my soul autumn teaches me what is most important in life. autumn brings with it the chance to slow down just enough to be grateful for all that is a part of life, and to begin to plant those seeds within my soul that will be the next part of my life.

for now, though, as they are harvested and planted anew, it is just time to wait. and be. and go with the flow. the cycle of life is doing exactly what she should. mother nature is teaching us, once again, as the leaves drift down to the ground that another season is over…. but in its place, in due time, a new season will begin. for now, we simply enjoy the colors and the traditions and the joys that are around us.

happy fall, y’all! go ahead + copy this list for your blog. i’d love to read what you love about autumn (or spring!)
onwards + upwards! xo

all photos are from asheville, north carolina. autumn 2014.

welcome back, dear autumn.

tonight is special. it is the autumn equinox. or in other words, fall begins tonight in the northern hemisphere. and i just love fall. but, before i get all wrapped up in the coziness and beauty of autumn, i want to pause today to let the equinox energy do its thing.

what i’m talking about is the fact that with the autumn equinox, nature is in balance. from the beginning of summer until today, the days have been longer than the night. after today, the reverse is true. the nights become longer. and the season of darkness creeps in.

for tonight, however, the light and the dark are equal. everything is in balance.

and this can mean a lot to our lives symbolically, if we take pause. as it is the middle of the harvest season, it is a time for celebration of all of the gifts of life. it is a perfect time to take stock and reflect on what has happened so far in life. it is a perfect time to be aware of the abundance we have received this year, not only in food, but in everything that we have experienced. and it is a time to plan and prepare what is needed for the next season in our lives. we can spend some moments, if we choose, on this autumn equinox night putting our lives in balance – focusing on remembering all that we have been given and preparing to let the season of darkness and coziness inspire us to go even further than we have in the past. it’s a time to finish up our old projects and begin to plant seeds for new ones. it is a time to celebrate and balance our life.

trees fall

so, i decided to spend some time, on this absolutely gorgeous day in the north carolina mountains, by myself. thinking, reflecting, and enjoying nature.

i headed over to a bar that is kind of like a park. grabbed my camp chair out of my car, ordered a pint of beer, and went to sit by the river. i let the sun warm my face, the water and the trees inspire me, and the blue sky fill me with awe and gratitude. i did a few things i love: i took some photos, wrote a little in my journal, and meditated a bit. i only spent about 45 minutes there, but it was the perfect little break in my day – and the perfect opportunity to welcome this next season in the cycle of life.
the bywater the bywater the bywater the bywater the bywater the by water french broad river the by water french broad river

at home, i gathered some candles, got a pumpkin, and made a dinner from fresh, local veggies. i am in the midst of creating a cozy, warm space for the coming dark, chilly nights.

every time this season rolls around, i am always ready for it. i am ready for sweaters and boots and scarves. ready for deep blue skies and nights that nip at your nose. i can’t wait to slide on some fingerless gloves and wear beanie caps. i love lighting candles all over my home, and making chili + soup. and the leaves, of course the leaves on the trees in the mountains. it’s a breathtaking, beautiful, restful time of year.

pumpkin ego self autumn vegetables

i hope that you will take some time over the next few days to let autumn (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere) sink into your bones. i hope that you will find some peace and quiet, and feel the balance of the earth as nature moves on, reminding us that our lives move on too. and it’s time, my friends, time to let the summer (or winter) go – time to begin to move indoors and begin to let the long, sometimes difficult, but always amazing season of autumn (spring) inspire us.

peace + love.

ode to autumn.

is there anything better in autumn than a cozy, chilly, rainy day at home? outside the leaves are all golden, orange, red, and brown. the clouds hang thick and low. it’s as if you can see the hibernation process happening, even if you don’t see any movement. everything feels sleepy. life seems to move in slow motion on these kinds of days. and home is where the heart is. there is no desire to go out and tackle anything.

the only thing that you want to do is light a candle or make some soup. get a blanket and read a book. begin to make christmas lists and thanksgiving preparations. yeah, inside is the place to be. and you’re thankful to not have to be outside in the messiness. or, if you’re out in it all, you’re dreaming of the moment when you come home and shed your layers, slip on your slippers, and pad about your abode finding the perfect place to settle.

but you’re also thankful that the cold, gray days exist. these are the days that water the earth. that prepare all of nature for winter. yes, they are the days that remind us that death is inevitable, but with that remembrance, comes also an awareness of the promise of new life again one day in the distant future.






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then again, there’s nothing like a brilliant, blue sky, bright sunshine, autumn day. the kind of day that energizes you and draws you outside like a magnet. the air is chilly in the shade. and the breeze makes it downright cold. but the sunshine, oh the sunshine, it warms your skin and brightens your mood. and the colors! those glorious autumn colors are so vivid and bright on these sunny days. you simply have to take a walk or a drive because it’s a sacrilege to stay indoors. these are the days that make you feel alive and hopeful. who cares that winter is around the corner because all that matters is the present moment. yes, autumn days filled with sunshine and color teach us the power of the present and remind us that to live in the present is to truly live.

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no matter the weather, though, autumn is beautiful. and the only way to truly soak up the season is to pay attention to it. inside or outside, this season passes along its wisdom about life and death. so, we simply must find a way to slow down. to observe. to listen. and to just be.758f97203b2d11e39ae722000aaa08f3_8

what’s your favorite thing about autumn? 

breathe in the colors of love and peace.

a balancing act in two parts.


I call them photo journeys for a reason. It’s more than just taking a photo of a random word for a random day. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that here is always a theme for each month – something to help guide me… us. In addition, I try to let that theme build upon itself, culminating with a feeling of accomplishment, understanding, or enlightenment (or whatever you want to call it) at the end of the journey.

When I began planning October’s photo journey, I had no specific ideas. So, I just looked through my photos. Two stuck out to me, but I couldn’t decide which one I like better. So, I did what any social media addict would do… I turned to Instagram.

Since I had two photos and no way of deciding which one to use,  I challenged my Instagram to help me out by voting and suggesting words. And they did! However, in the end, there was still a problem: One of the photos had more “likes” and the other one had more word suggestions. What to do now?!

As I made a list of the words under their respective photos, it became clear to me that a theme had emerged, using both of the pictures: harmony and balance. The sky photo inspired words of otherness, out there, space, and mystery. The rock and feet photo inspired words of connectedness, humanity, earth, ground, and a path. When I saw this, I knew right away that these two photos were total contrasts, and yet, somehow linked to each other as well. Something I had no idea about when I simply randomly chose them. But it all made sense, looking at the suggestions and preferences.

In life, we need both. We need the mystery, the awe, the space, and the moments of negativity and dreams. We need to soak up the dreamy-ness of an evening sunset.

We also need to feel grounded and connected. We need to be present right here, right now. We need to be real, concrete, and daring. We need pure, human experience.

I have always believed from deep within my soul, that we need both. So, that’s what we’re gonna have this month. Both photos. Both feelings. Both parts of the journey of life. The spiritual, mystical, other-worldly moments and the spiritual, connected, practical, earthy moments. Because, to me, both are spiritual experiences. Spirit moves outside of us… in some other worldly, indescribable way. However, it is also very real and present in our everyday moments. For, when we turn inward or look upward, we realize that every single moment of very day life is infused with the sacred – if it wasn’t what would be the point? Wouldn’t life then be meaningless? But, each breath, each rock, each sunset holds the mystery of life.

So, for October, we are going to balance ourselves. We are going to experience the amazingness of the heavens and the sky and our dreams. And we are going to focus on the beauty of the present moment right where we are and slow down just enough to see that ordinary life is amazing too. I used both of the photos and split the month in half, so it’s kind of like two challenges in one journey. There is still one theme, but with two different mini-journeys. Hope you like it!



The ways to participate are the same as always. But, if you’ve forgotten or if this is your first time participating, here are a few tips:

save the photo journey list(s) to your desktop or on your smartphone, so you know what the word is for each and every day. each of the word gives you something to focus on for those days. remember that it’s all about how you interpret the word. be creative and express yourself however you want!

here’s a link to instagram so you can sign up & get started! click here to join in.

and if you want to become part of the bllphotoaday community, just follow me at @lizslens on instagram. and use the hashtag #bllphotoaday when you post your IG photo. then, you’ll see everyone else’s photos too. and there are some amazing people taking part from all over the world. check ’em out!

if you don’t have or don’t want instagram (which is totally fine!), then simply post your pics on facebook or on your blog. but, let me know, so i can follow along. i’ll do my best to spread the word that you are participating. however, the best way to create a photo journey community is actually on instagram. buuuuut, there is one more option… you can post your photos every day to belovelive’s facebook page! perhaps we can get that community growing as well! invite your FB friends to “like” belovelive’s page and then our community will spread even further & wider! think of all the inspiration! click here to go to belovelive’s page.

before i close i’d love to share my little september video with you all. it was a wild and glorious month! one of the best yet. there are no words really for how touching and fun and  amazing it was, so take a peek (click on the photo below to see the video):


now, let’s get on with october! yay! hope you’ll be joining in!

camera’s ready? peace!

orange is the new black.

have you heard of that netflix series yet? that’s the name of it: orange is the new black. and  it is abso-freakin-lutely awesome. my love and i got seriously stuck and watched the first season in a fairly short amount of time. we have now moved onto other series while we wait for season 2 to be finished. i hope you have netflix. and i hope that you have OITNB on it. it’s a series made exclusively for netflix. anyway, if you can, check it out. so amazing.

this post isn’t actually about the series, but the title worked well for what i’m going to share with y”all – a bunch of photos that i had flagged to do in this post which i soon realized, as i looked at them in their folder in iPhoto, all had an orange, warm glow to them. so, there ya go. the story behind the title. plus a tip for an awesome tv series. you’re welcome.

now, in celebration of the fist week of fall, my birthday, and just life in general, here are some photos from the past week. they make me happy. and they are quite meaningful captures of fabulous, cozy, fun, super moments from an incredible week…


i spent last sunday morning wrapped up in a blanket, reading a magazine, sipping coffee. near perfection.IMG_4121
then, i headed out for a birthday brunch with my parents & bro & wifey. deliciousness + family = happy liz.IMG_4186
the trees are turning! the trees are turning!IMG_4215
my pal ash, challenged me to show my day in nine shots last monday… so here it is. it was a good day. really good. and birthday eve!IMG_4228
basking in my birthday morning, all natural glow. and soooo excited about the mala meditation beads my love got me. i was speechless and filled with joy!IMG_4230
zola got in on some empty box action. cutiepatootie.IMG_4279
dinner with my brother and my love was out of this world. the food was good, but more than that was the company and conversation. it was a pretty damn near perfect evening that left my heart filled with laugher and love. IMG_4289
wednesday lunch was with my parents, and even though it was a rainy, dreary day, it was cozy and good to just sit with them and enjoy a little bit of time together. and eat tomato soup. comfort and coziness.IMG_4294
i drove around in the rainy, misty beautifulness of the mountains for a little while. ahhh…IMG_4297
a few halloween decorations for our door. the holiday craziness begins now. yes!IMG_4300
pumpkins at the grocery store. gotta get some more!IMG_4328
i saw this amazingness in a parking lot on thursday. all i could think was: road. trip. out. west. now. IMG_4334
dinner silliness with my bro again. we love us some eatin’ out.IMG_4336
and it continued… with my two most favorite people in the whole world. i am a lucky girl.IMG_4346
autumn colors on a sunny, warm, gorgeous friday.IMG_4355
this amazing woman, the love of my life, my wife did something… on friday evening, while i was in my pj’s sipping on a beer on the balcony with my brother, there was a knock on the door. lina told me to go get it… i opened it and it was my awesome friend (former youth member), julia. she doesn’t live in asheville, so i was so freaking confused! a few minutes later, there was another knock… still in my pj’s (i’d been planning or assuming we were having a quiet night at home) and jessica was there! she came in and then 5 more people came in after her. surprise to me!! everyone was in on it, and we were going out to eat to celebrate my birthday! AMAZING! IMG_4374
here we are… minus a couple, enjoying mexican. and yes, they did sing to me some spanish song and put a sombrero on my head and put ice cream all over my face. it was super fun!IMG_4357
julia, lina, and i then headed downtown for some nightlife. we ended up at a new bar, a speakeasy actually, that literally just opened that night. we had cocktails and little bites of food to eat. the food we got out of an old post office bix. they gave us a key and we went on our own to get the food. crazy. IMG_4362
it was dark, cozy, relaxing, and so much fun.IMG_4363
i had the hemingway martini. and i loved it.
IMG_4366the rest of the weekend i have not left the apartment. it has been cozy, relaxing, and really great. i think i’ve needed to soak up all the amazingness of the past week. i’ve also slept some, written some, listened to my fall playlist, and gotten myself addicted to breaking bad – and yes, i am behind the rest of the world with that series since it ends tonight. but, i’ll just get to enjoy it longer.

ok. now i’m ready for a new week… a week were i actually have some work to do! i’ve got to write an article, plan the belovelive photo journey for october, meet some new blogging contacts, and of course, fika! then, it’s off tothe beach for about 5 days next weekend since it’s lina’s fall break. feels like it’s gonna be another good week.

i don’t even know what to saw about how awesome september has been.

peace and love and warmth to each of you.

contemplation and adventure. that’s how i roll.

computer in my lap. blanket covering my legs, with my toes peeking out (’cause my feet always get hot). a single candle burning on the kitchen island emitting a cinnamon-y autumn smell and a soft glow. rain pouring down outside. cloudy morning darkness. a cup of coffee, of course. and a cozy, autumn playlist perfect for the mood.

i am basking in this first day of my 39th year. a year that i believe will be marked by contemplation and love and adventure. last year my love gave me my moleskin journal, some colorful pens, a funky, amazing camera strap. and what did i do with those gifts? i spent the year taking photos, writing, and coming the the conclusion, the complete understanding, of what my dreams truly are. and i used those gifts she gave me to chronicle a very important, transitional ,and amazing year – filled with deep heartache and extreme joy. excitement, confusion, fear, and amazement. a year that ultimately ended in experiencing dreams coming true.

yesterday, my love gave me mala beads (buddhist meditation beads), a gift card to a bookstore, fingerless gloves, and a tent with the a special note attached. last year, lina’s gifts to me were like a prophecy of my year. they were perfect. and so, i believe that this year’s gifts are the same. hence, my understanding of this next year to be one filled with contemplation and love and adventure.

it was a quiet, simple, and very meaningful birthday. and it was perfect.


















One comes of it, love it, love it
Let go of it, love comes from it
We’re not of this world for long
Faith and promise keep me honest
When starvation falls upon us
Daylight told me here I’d be
Gone with cold words spoke among hers
Wretched in the tongue of their world
We’re not of that world at all, we will never be
Wouldnt it be fine to stand
Behind the words we say
In the best of times
Oh, and you and I know all too well
About the hell and paradise
Right here on earth
Keep it, use it, build it, move it
Flames cant touch how time will prove it
Watch us fly as loud as we can
Let her heartbeat change what I am now
Wouldnt it be fine to stand
Behind the words we say
In the best of times
Oh, and you and I know all too well
About the hell and paradise
Right here on earth
– Avett Brothers 

now, it’s time to get started on my 52 to 40! peace and love.

i’m all into hemingway right now.

my weekend was everything i hoped it would be. it started off with dinner on the balcony as the sun set and the moon rose. i soaked ernest hemingway’s words into my soul, and just let the weekend unfold as it wanted. little did i know, that it would actually be exactly like hemingway wrote. (click here to see his quote & the moon over our balcony dinner!)

take a peek at my instagram and nikon photos from the weekend:

601c025c1c9211e387f422000a1f9afa_7friday afternoon downtown. doing our regular weekend beginning beer date.


the sunset from our balcony during dinner. so peaceful.IMG_3778

saturday morning’s sky. love it. e1863e941d4011e3a46f22000a1de414_7

spent the morning in bed… all of us doing our thing. so lazy & perfect.0795ff701d6e11e3914422000a1f98df_7

bella, jessica, lina & i planned a girl’s adventure afternoon! yay!DSC_1015

up first: a ride on the blue ridge parkway. it was so amazingly beautiful.


we stopped for a picnic at an overlook. it was hooooot. but beautiful and fun!DSC_0003 - Version 2 DSC_1017IMG_3810

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later on in the evening, after a great mexican dinner at our fave mexican restaurant, we made it super cozy at home. and, yes, i brought out the fall-themed candles. it’s time!IMG_3818

we also bought a string of bulbs to hang over our bedroom windows. love them so much.

2442af501e0a11e3890a22000a1fbc9a_7sunday morning: time for coffee and the sunday morning news shows. IMG_3832

for some mid-afternoon coffee, i headed down to our apartment complex’s clubhouse (2 floors below us) for some of the free starbucks coffee that have available for residents. yummy luxury.

well, it’s time for a new week to begin. what  lucky, lucky girl i am. you know, i am fully convinced that it is the simple things and being present in the moment that is what life’s all about. sharing life with others, enjoying all that is around. being aware of the beauty that is everywhere. and embracing the moment as it is. my friends, i certainly hope that you had a lovely weekend too!

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

sending you lots of love and peace.

things i love about these september days.

you know, september is my favorite month because there’s a lot to love about it. it’s got a little bit of everything: summer, fall, the possibility of really chilly weather, green trees, autumn-colored leaves, blue skies, rainy days, the beginning of a new year (my brain still works on an academic year. hehe.), sweaters, boots, warm days, dark nights, and gifts & celebrations (it’s my birthday month!).

it always feels like a transitional month to me, and a month to come home. to begin to nest and get all cozy. this year, it feels even more like that. summer has been beautiful, wonderful, and crazy. i turned my life upside-down once again during the summer months, moving from sweden to the united states, and throwing my arms open to the universe, saying, “take me where you will” as i chase more of my dreams.

well, the first week of september has now come & gone. the weather has been warm, but i can feel a hint of fall. i can tell that things are changing, that the summer days will soon be a sheer memory, and the beauty of autumn will be upon us soon up here in the northern hemisphere. i even have the obligatory change-of-seasons cold right now. so, today i’ve had some time to stay at home and try to rest a little. in the meantime, i’ve also worked on catching up with some things on my blogs.

but it feels like i have not connected with you all very much, at least not here on belovelive. i’ve been totally soaked up by my forty days of fika experience, which is going really well. and i’m loving every minute of it. but, i miss being here.i miss  posting my daily little musings and photos… you know just every day stuff.

so, i thought that today i’d share with you the things i’m loving about september so far:

beautiful weather.

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hanging out at home.

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spending time in downtown asheville.

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learning more about coffee.

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attending a book reading & signing of a favorite author!

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receiving snail mail from sweden and australia!

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i most warmly welcome september this year, and my excitement grows every day as i get ready to celebrate my 39th year! it’s gonna be a great one! happy september, friends. enjoy the transitions and whatever moments come your way.

peace & love.

the next chapter from my memoir: 33 changed everything.

canton home

the view from my front porch.

my husband closed the door behind him and i was standing in our, in my, home… alone.

it was the beginning of august in 2007, and it was as if the slate had been wiped completely clean. i was almost 33 years old and i felt brand new. perhaps i felt a little bit of fear, but mostly, i felt free. not free because my marriage was now over, but free because of what that symbolized.

i was me. only me. and all the dreams that i had dreamed, whatever they were, now seemed more possible than ever.

what had happened to me was that i had gotten to know myself. i had allowed myself to listen to my inner voice, to feel my own soul, to put away all of the thoughts and pressures of others’ expectations and just listen. i felt more me than i had ever felt before. ever.

now, what was i to do with my life? how was i going to go about making dreams come true? i most definitely would move from the small town in the mountains in north carolina where i had been living. and, if i could make it happen, i would move to denmark. after 12 years, perhaps my chance had come. i suppose i could have felt overwhelmed and confused, but i felt more calm than ever before.

on my first night alone, and for many nights thereafter for the next 4 months, i poured myself a glass of red wine, sat on my little front porch, stared into the starry night sky, and just let myself be me.

the next morning, i woke early, make a pot of coffee and snuggled into a big, round chair on my back porch to read, write, meditate, and pray. i repeated this morning ritual faithfully for the next year. almost every single day. i used these mornings to fill myself with inspiration and then to reflect on what i had read, what i had done, and where i was headed.  i wrote and wrote and wrote. i dreamed. i planned. i processed everything. my soul was my counselor. my guide.

max patch

i also headed back to work after the summer of 2007 with all it’s adventures and transformations.

i worked full time as a minister in a united methodist church. it was my seventh year there, surrounded by inspiring, amazing, mountain people from all walks of life. i loved my job. i loved my co-worker. i loved the youth. i had built strong, important relationships with some wonderful, inspiring people. i had created a position that allowed me to use my gifts & passions at the time.

but, how long would i remain there? that question rolled around in my mind daily. i began to realize that, as painful as it would be and as ridiculous & careless it may seem to others, it was time for me to move on.

central umc canton

at the same time i was working full-time, i was also beginning my final semester of seminary, my final four months of preparing to receive my master’s degree. the last few months of soaking up the information, knowledge, and spiritual development that was part of the process of becoming me in my professional role. however, throughout my entire seminary journey, i knew that it was not really a preparation for a job, but a preparation of who i am called to be… as an authentic, whole person, living out her dreams and using her gifts. seminary actually never was, for me, a professional endeavor, but a personal, spiritual one.

i recall the last assignment i had that semester. my final project was to write my spiritual autobiography. a look at my past, my present, and my future. what an appropriate assignment for this particular time in my life, i felt, as i began my life anew. i looked forward to getting my journey down on paper, in black and white.

but, we were also told that we would share our autobiographies with each other, and then take a day to discuss each person’s journey as a group. i was nervous. really nervous. i knew exactly who i was, who i felt i needed to be, but i did not know the answer to that age old question, “what are you going to do?” – an integral part of the last part of the assignment… to cast a vision for what we felt called to do after seminary, how and where we would work.

for me, that question was irrelevant. i had cast aside all pressure to answer that question in my life, after i had slowly come to understand that it is not about what i do, but about who i am. and if, and when, i am faithful to who i am, what i do will come directly from that.

nature and me

with that the guiding belief in this new life i was embarking on, i decided to mark myself. literally. i had a vine tattooed onto my right wrist as a reminder and a celebration of the knowledge that all i need to do is simply be. to simply stay connected to my soul, to the divine that is within. my job is to be. and just as a branch bears fruit simply because it connected to a vine, so will i bear fruit in my life, if i am connected to that which is true, light, love, and peace within me. my soul will lead me where i need to be. and what will i do? i will only focus on being me. and in being me, i will become someone who can be used wherever she is.

i wrote my spiritual autobiography for my seminary class. i illustrated with words the journey i had been on thus far, and the dreams i had for the future. and i did not list any plans. i did not say where i wanted to work, how i wanted to live out my ministry, like my classmates did. there were no specifics when it came to my future. there was only a certainly in my present, and the plan to seek to be true to myself, trusting that the details would come.

of course i was terrified at how my classmates and my professor would respond. but, it was a beautiful moment, filled acceptance and support, as they congratulated me on finding a level of peace within myself that some of them had not yet discovered.


oh yes, the fall of 2007 changed me.

i was now legally separated from my husband. i was preparing to leave the church where i had been working for the past 7 years. and i was completing the last leg of my spiritual journey in seminary. it was a peaceful, slow, thoughtful, and inspiring four months. i felt safe. calm. hope. alive. peace.

it was during this time that i died to my old self. the final death came around my 33rd birthday in september. i sat one morning and literally said goodbye to my old way of life, to the old me. and yet, i appreciated all that the old me had given me. without those previous 33 years, would i have never celebrated the beginning of this new journey in life. though i let some things go, i held onto myself, because i had actually discovered that which had been within me all along.

and i was born again. life began again. i breathed deeper. laughed harder. sat in silence longer. wrote more. listened more intensely. communed with nature. lived more fully.

i had no idea what would come. but, come what may, all would be well.

*all photos taken in the fall of 2007

even gray is beautiful.

“Even as a child, she had preferred night to day, had enjoyed sitting out in the yard after sunset, under the star-speckled sky listening to frogs and crickets. Darkness soothed. It softened the sharp edges of the world, toned down the too-harsh colors. With the coming of twilight, the sky seemed to recede; the universe expanded. The night was bigger than the day, and in its realm, life seemed to have more possibilities.” ― Dean KoontzMidnight

during the month of november the darkness grows even more. it takes over. the grayness engulfs every day. the sun stays hidden behind the clouds. and it feels like the cold, damp weather will never end. energy & motivation are hard to come by.

still, there is something about the swedish darkness i find comforting. the cold, gray days turn into dark, warm nights. and even though the sun sets and the darkness arrives earlier and earlier right now, something about november feels cozy.

i find myself having this nesting feeling during november. wanting to be home. light candles. play music. watch movies. snuggle under blankets. write.

yes, the darkness can be depressing. it can feel like too much some days. i can find myself longing for sunshine & warmth. but, then i remember, that it will come. the light will return. spring will arrive again. but, for now, the darkness has settled in. and, nature reminds me of one more lesson in life… to embrace the day. to live in the present. to find the beauty. to seek peace.

tonight my love has been the queen of coziness. first, she lit candles all over the kitchen for dinner. then, as i washed the dishes, she lit the living room up with tons of candles… soft, flickering lights everywhere. and now, it’s late, and we’re snuggled under the covers catching up on some “true blood”, with more candles and cozy lights.

yep. learning to live in the moment. to truly be present. that’s a lifelong lesson, one that i will never get right, but one that i will work on day after day, night after night.

hope you have a cozy november night, my dear friends.