the beauty of the everyday

hi friends! It’s been a while since i’ve done a regular ole “what i’m doing now” post, so i thought i’d surprise you with a little wednesday greeting. it’s been a pretty cozy day for me, but the november weather has most definitely taken a turn for the worse. all of those lovely, bright, colorful days of october are just a distant dream now. and, even though it hasn’t been cloudy + chilly every day, the leaves are in a whole different phase – the turning muted, brownish kind of phase. beautiful in their own way, though, as lina is teaching me to say (since i complained about it yesterday. hehe).

yellow tree

so, here’s how my day has gone:

i took the car to get serviced this morning. fun fun. i had my computer with me, though, so i got a little writing and planning done. plus, there was an adorable little girl + her dad there who kept me entertained.

then, i went to fika with my fika group. yep, i am still meeting with my little coffee group on every wednesday in a different cafe in asheville. my year anniversary is coming up next week – how freaking crazy is that?! i believe that i now have over 150 fika lovers as part of the group. of course, on any given week, between 12 and 18 usually show up. which, in itself is a big group for a cafe. today, however, there were only 7 of us. and that was super cozy. i had a chance to really talk with some people.

it’s crazy. it’s such an eclectic group of people. one of my members lives in his car – keeping his footprint on the earth as minimal as possible. a few have swedish relatives + connections. most are new to asheville. there are older ladies, middle-aged men, a few lesbian couples, some young working people,  a few high maintenance people, some complainers + bitch-ers, some sunshine-y, thoughtful people, and a lot of creative, eclectic artists. all in all, a super amazing group of people from all walks of life.

and, even though the group has driven me crazy sometimes, like when people complain to me about the size or shape of the tables at the cafe (seriously!) or leave rude, hurtful bullying comments, it has been a true blessing and an incredible opportunity to meet people and help connect people to one another. i suppose that it has become my little fika congregation.

me selfie ego

but, the highlight of my day so far has been a friend request on Facebook. one of my former students at a high school i used to teach at in asheville 4 years ago found me on fb and asked me to “friend” him. so, i did. now, this kid (who is now an actual adult – gaaaah!) was very special to me back when i was teaching. he and i had a great working relationship, and i ended up being someone he learned to trust and count on. he was just a sweetheart, and all i wanted was for him (like my other kiddos) to succeed and feel good about who he was.

anyway, after friending him, he sent me a message, which humbled and touched me to my core. it is not often that teachers (or anyone) have the chance to hear how they have (hopefully) affected a student. but, this student of mine, wrote to tell me that i made a difference to him, that he could not have made it through high school without my help.

yep. now i can die happy. if there is one thing that i have always wanted in life, it is to know that i have made a difference to someone’s life. that who i am and what i have done matters – that’s what we all want. needless to say, hearing all the kind warms warmed my heart greatly, but knowing that this student is doing well, is happy, and is working, and has a girl that he loves, makes me even more happy. i am one freaking proud teacher. *wipes a tear from her eye*

fika

now, i am all settled in at a cozy, funky cafe with my love. we are having a little working date together, sipping on chai and pumpkin spice lattes. soon, it’s time to go to a dinner party at our friends’ home around the corner from here. we’re gonna make some amazing plans for the summer – they are musicians/artists and we are planning a tour for them to europe! (gesine and nicole and midas, if you are reading this, we probably be contacting you regarding this soon!).

i just have one more thing to say, then, i’ll let you get on with your day… days like this, regular days, may seem ordinary and boring. but, when we look back and look at all of the little moments together, we see that our lives are actually extraordinary. at least that is how i feel today. blessed. inspired. grateful. and so very happy.

what have you done today? what do you have planned? i’m sending you lots of love + light + and wishing you a beautiful evening or morning. all of my love and peace i leave with you.

xx

crossing sweden: coast to coast

rocky coast sweden

hello! well, it’s been a whole week – or more, actually! – and i’ve been totally off the grid. no telephone. no internet. no nothing. only the bright blue swedish sky, the hot yellow sun, the shimmering baltic sea, and the dark green forests hugging the swedish archipelago. it’s been like living in a little sliver of heaven for a week – a little taste of how life is supposed to be lived, within a community of friends and family, laughing together, working together to take care of one another, and enjoying the peace and joy of simply being with each other and with ourselves.

however, before i show you the photos from my little place of bliss, i have a few road trip photos to share. before we ended up at the archipelago last sunday, we drove from norrköping (home) on the east coast to gothenburg, on the west coast. we left norrköping on saturday and headed toward gothenburg to watch our niece and lina’s cousin complete their confirmation – a big rite of passage in sweden. so, saturday was a little road trip day – complete with a roadside fika. how swedes do rest stops. we arrived in gothenburg mid-afternoon, which gave us a chance to explore the city with paige, who’d never been there before. fun times.

road trip car jonköping fika

ego me self fika fika

we strolled the streets of this city that i love, popping in and out of shops, and enjoying the super warm temps that were moving into sweden. we met an old friend for dinner, and then headed out of the city to a camp-retreat center where we were going to spend the night – for free! you gotta love connections, huh?

gothenburg

now this little camp lies only about 30 minutes outside of gothenburg, but when you are there, you feel completely immersed in a simple, slow life. even if you are staying for only a night. of course, just a short walk (and an even shorter drive) from the camp lies part of the west coast’s archipelago –  a rocky coastline and harbor, which reminds me a bit of maine’s coastline in the states. we headed over there to enjoy the scenery and give paige a taste of what was to come in the upcoming week at the swedish archipelago back on the east coast.

for our one night outside of gothenburg, however, it was a mostly cloudy, but warm summer night of endless light. it was just the perfect thing to get me excited about our upcoming week deep in the swedish nature.

harbor sweden west coast rocky coast sweden photo sweden west coast

self timer west coast

self timer west coast girls three girls coast sweden red house west coast west coast archipelago sunset west coast sweden boat gothenburg house west coast sweden harbor west sweden sweden harbor sunset sweden harbor

on sunday, we woke up and drove back into gothenburg for the confirmation ceremony/worship service at the church where i first met lina – so many good memories there. i’ll admit that being there stirred many feelings inside of me, from missing my grandfather, to falling in love with lina, to connecting with my past as a minister and a long-time methodist. all of the feelings were good ones, i might add. nostalgic and happy.

after lunch, we headed back on the road – this time from the west coast back to the east coast  - it only takes about 4-5 hours to cross sweden from coast to coast. nothing like what it takes in north carolina. hehe. however, it took a bit longer for us because, after the usual fika break on the side of the road, we noticed a weird sound outside the left windows in the car. we pulled over, and what do you know. a flat tire. luckily swedes can do anything – the perk of being a country full of practical and always prepared people – so it didn’t take long until we were on our way again. yipee.

road trip sweden flat tire sweden

then, finally, after criss-crossing the country twice in two days, a little mini-camp break, a less than 24 hour visit to gothenburg, and a chance to see the west coast a bit, and a flat tire, we made it to our destination:

skeppsgården! - the camp in the archipelago by the baltic sea that we visit with lina’s family and friends every summer. oh, i can’t wait to share with you the beauty that is this place. there is no week like camp week here in sweden.  if you just can’t wait, though, to see what it looks like, then you can always sneak a peek at some blog posts from the past few years: just click here and here.

trees skeppsgården sweden

love and peace, dear readers. xx

hello

odds cafe

hello, there, friday lovers. just wanted to pop in and greet you as we begin the weekend. who’s ready for it?! i’m sure my dear, sweet love is ready. she’s been incognito all week with her head in her physics and pre-calculus books. ewww. but, in about 2 hours, she’s done with those two finals and only has two more next week. by next tuesday at lunchtime, she’s my free, summer-lovin’ girl. i can’t wait for her to be able to take a break. i have never seen someone work so hard and be so dedicated to whatever she does. i am one proud wife! she is an amazing woman!

as for me, i am at complete peace right now (while lina is struggling away at her math final). i feel bad. i really do. but, we’ll be able to celebrate and enjoy life together later this evening when we meet up with some ladies for cocktail hour at a wine bar. fun fun!

odds cafe

anyway, back to right now. at this moment, i am sitting in a new cafe that has opened up in west asheville. odd’s cafe. i’ve been in contact with the owner for a few months now, after i heard that she was opening a new coffee bar. of course, my ears perked up. west asheville? coffee bar? peeeerfect.

i’ve been following the process, having contact every now and then with audrie, knowing that she was close to opening, and then i got an assignment to cover the story for the paper – which i was gonna pitch to my editor anyway. yes! so, last friday, i did some photos and interviews, and got a story ready for the web. by the way, i loved how the cafe looked. the owners, audrie and mel, were waiting for their health inspection and then they were ready to open. sometime on saturday i received a message from them that they had the inspection and would be open for business on monday! i felt as if i was almost as excited as the owner – well, almost. hehe.

take away coffee

of course, i dropped in on monday for their grand opening, bringing lina with me. we sat and enjoyed a little dirty chai and fell in love with everything instantly. the feel. the art. the chai. the space.

today, i am back. with time to kill while lina’s taking a final. so, i thought i’d drop by and grab another chai – i’m a creature of habit. and it was yummy. when i ordered the chai, i found myself saying that i wanted a small plate too. hummus. naan. and carrots.

hummus lunch

i sat down, pulled my stuff out of my bag, began munching on my food, and sipping my chai. and i just felt at peace. and grateful. and excited. i also decided that featuring this cafe on my fika (coffee) blog is the absolutely perfect way to re-launch that blog and begin my next adventures in the coffee world – i got plans. oh, i got big plans!

i’m thinking that this is the perfect start to the weekend! slow, quiet, and at peace. rowdiness and craziness to come later. hehe.

wishing you a beautiful weekend filled with all of your favorite things! xoxo