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.

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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.

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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!

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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):

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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…

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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.

SWEET MESSAGES FROM MY PARENTS.

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AN INSTAGRAM CHECK WHEN I WOKE UP… AND THIS IS WHAT I RECEIVED. WHAT A FUN AND AWESOME MESSAGE FROM MY SWEET AUSTRALIAN FRIEND, ASH!

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AND TO START MY MORNING OFF RIGHT, I TURNED ON THIS SONG. SNUGGLED UNDER THE COVERS. AND LET IT ALL SOAK IN… NOW I’M READY TO CELEBRATE!

MY LOVE CAME IN SINGING AND  BROUGHT ME BREAKFAST IN BED, FOLLOWING THE TRADITIONAL SWEDISH WAS WE USUALLY CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS. SOON AFTER, I HAD A MAJOR HOMESICK MOMENT FOR SWEDEN. CRAZY, HUH?

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TIME FOR PRESENTS!!

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LOOKY WHAT I GOT! MEDITATION BEADS, GLOVES, A GIFT CARD TO FEED MY BOOK NEEDS, AND A TENT!! WHO’S UP FOR A ROAD TRIP?!

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LET THE BIRTHDAY FIKA COMMENCE! SUNNY DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE.

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AFTER AN AFTERNOON OF WRITING, PLANNING, NAPPING, AND SITTING – ALL ON MY BALCONY, MY LOVE & MY BROTHER TOOK ME OUT TO DINNER. MY ONLY STIPULATION WAS THAT I WANTED TO BE OUTSIDE. AND THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH CAROLINA MOUNTAINS DID NOT DISAPPOINT. THESE WERE MY FAVORITE COLORS YESTERDAY.

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YEP. 39 FEELS PRETTY AMAZING. AND I FEEL OVERWHELMINGLY BLESSED.

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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.

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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.

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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.