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

rocky coast sweden

crossing sweden: coast to coast

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

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

goodbye, weekly sensory overload.

well, folks. i think it’s time to retire the ole sensory overload title. i’m not retiring the category, though. so, you can always click on the tab at the top of the page that says “sensory overload” and be taken to all posts where i share how life makes my senses go crazy.

you see, i feel that i have gotten into some kind of a rut with my blog by having specific things to post on specific days. that’s not what this blog is all about – and to try to fit a circle into a square hole just doesn’t work. this blog is a spontaneous, whatever inspires me in the moment, daily life blog. like a journal. so, i am not setting any specific days for anything – expect for wednesdays, but wednesdays of wisdom will continue throughout my dalai lama series. at the end of that series in june, i will reevaluate that as well.

so, to sum up, i’m going back to posting whenever and wherever i feel like it! and that feels amazing. i know that people say that bloggers should have a blogging editorial calendar with stuff all planned out for about 3 months. that sounds great. i even kinda tried it. but it just does not cut it for this blog. that is for my fika blog – something that is a bit more professional and not a daily life kinda place.

anyway, i have a lot of stuff to share with you this week from the past week, so this will look like all of my previous sensory overload posts. but, after this, it’ll be all about just posting from day to day, whatever inspires me. it’ll be more like sensory overload as it happens – which, if i think about it, is even more awesome. so, posts will be more frequent, more focused, and more exciting!

here we go!

clouds pink tree green tree blue sky purple flowers feet road and spring trees green and blue gunni and spooky fika group zola cozy balcony bella and me ego sunshine legs beer morning coffee car snack balcony reading coffee sermon balcony video sermon parkway lina video us video parkway

as you can see, it was a week filled with some stunning nature, beautiful moments with people and pets, cozy and quiet moments of peace, and an opportunity for lina and i to have some contact with the church i worked at in sweden – they asked me to say a few words on their theme for sunday. so, lina prepared the camera and i drove us up on the blue ridge parkway, and we video-taped me talking (in swedish) to the congregation. they played it yesterday morning in church. it was so much fun to send it to them – though the sending part was an insane, long process! hehe.

over here in our little home, this week is gonna be a bit crazy. my love has a test today, then two days for study, then 4 finals between thursday & next tuesday. so, she’ll be out of commission for a week and a half. i’ve got some writing, job applying, my book club, and some planning to do for our NYC trip in a few weeks!

happy monday, dear readers! xx

sensory overload. part 13.

hi friends! it’s monday, again. time for a new week and time for my weekly sensory overload post! i find it pretty fun to go through my photos from the past week, and notice the things that were inspiring, amazing, and just simply nice.it really helps me to focus on seeing the beauty and amazingness that is contained in regular, everyday life. and that, i believe, is an important thing to practice.

we spend so much time wishing for this or that – always thinking that the grass is greener of the other side. these monday posts help me to focus and see that, no, life is pretty damn good exactly where i am. and it’s all these little moments that make me grateful for life, instead of wishing it away.

this past week i del like a drank a lot of coffee – and i was quite social. i worked on a coffee article about beans in the beginning of the week, and that gave me an amazing opportunity to have conversation with some seriously passionate people. plus, i am now wanderlusting about doing a coffee trip to a coffee farm overseas. how amazing would that be? i also had my regular fika meet up in a super funky, eclectic cafe in west asheville. battle cat is a definite favorite place to hang out. (i went twice last week!). and, during the weekend, i had two coffee meetings with panels i was chairing for two articles i am writing for and asheville eats & drinks guide that the local newspaper is publishing. so, yes. lots of people. lots of coffee. and that equals lots of fun!

IMG_0553 IMG_0614 IMG_0616 IMG_0673 IMG_0641

the winter weather just won’t seem to let up this year. it’s a crazy roller coaster ride, but i think we are in for some awesomeness this week as it will be in the 70s (20s celsius!). i’m keeping my fingers crossed – it is going to be april tomorrow, you know! time for a little spring!IMG_0579 IMG_0584 IMG_0719

i had my second book club meeting last tuesday, and it was so very great. there were about 12 women, lots of conversation and debate, glasses of wine, and a snowy evening all making it a perfect, cozy gathering. i just love meeting new people, hearing different takes on a book, and finding inspiration. plus, i get to channel my inner spiritual direction/teacher. bonus.IMG_0597 IMG_0602

here are a few more shots from the drive up north of asheville for that teaching interview i had. i’ll hear back something this week – not to determine if i got the job or not, but to coordinate my thoughts with the director = see where we both stand and what we are both thinking. i’l tell you what i’m thinking: i’m thinking that i want this job!

IMG_0645 IMG_0656

my parents came to town, so we did quite a bit of eating out (nothing new, i know. hehe). yummy places, fun times, and good to be together again. they split their time between my brother’s place and ours. it was short and quick, but meaningful to me.IMG_0558 IMG_0639 IMG_0666

enjoyed a few things that i love to the max this week: bubbles to drink, snuggles with our favorite little american, girl time with her mom, and cozy nights at home.IMG_0670

IMG_0707 IMG_0674

how was your week? any amazing moments? i hope that not only have you had a good weekend, but that this upcoming week is filled with joy and happiness and peace. sending you lots of love. xx

p.s. tomorrow is my belovelive anniversary! stay tuned for a celebration & april’s photo challenge! 

namaste.

sensory overload: part 9

/

you know how some weeks are just regular weeks? well, that’s how this past week was. just regular life – not that that’s bad. but, it’s those weeks that seem regular, boring, mundane, and/or ordinary that are the ones that teach me to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. and believe me, if you look, you will find it.

so, even though there were not ground-breaking moments, i quietly moved through the week just doing what i do. and looking back, i can see just how amazing some of those moments actually were. however, if i am really aware, then i am present in the moments as they happen. that, of course, is my goal.

the past week was full of little things that, as i looked through my photos, reminded me that i am so blessed -just to live the life that i do. that there is inspiration all around me.

in fact, i dare say that inspiration was actually the theme during the week:

an evening beer and cozy lights.

lights

we rearranged our bedroom. a new perspective, and a funky loft feel. love it!bedroom

finished an amazing book: The Invention of Wingsthe invention of wings

Had my first book club meeting! so. much. fun.book club

my new favorite breakfast place: Biscuit Head & a great Fika meet up with incredible conversationsbreakfast

a lot of work/writing at home. ok. not as much as it should have been.work

sunrises, sunsets, and silent momentssunrise

sunset

on saturday, I attended an amazing LGBT conference  – inspiration. networking. support. information. activism.
LGBT IMG_9705 IMG_9712

sunday morning laziness with my little familysunday morning

and finally, the oscars on tv! it was a great show with (again, I use the word) inspiring actors, speeches, & moments

IMG_9741

i need to seriously be really productive this week. motivated. effective. and creating that paradise that i say is my own inspiration for 2014. perhaps all of that inspiration that i soaked up last week will carry me through this week.

so, i’m gonna try to be all about business this week – and also taking care of my family (who are sick and having a rough time) – because next weekend some friends from germany come to visit! so, time to get moving. here’s to wishing you a great week, friends!

peace & love. xx