friends, get ready for a comprehensive look back over this past year. it may be the longest post ever, but it’s mostly photos. not many words. i promise! enjoy!
after spending christmas and new year’s in the states, we returned to a snowy, cold, beautiful sweden… knowing that big things were coming in 2013, but having no idea exactly how big.
i made a promise to myself for the new year: i promised to follow my passion: to write. to believe in all possibilities, and to live life in 2013 as an amazing adventure – filled with the highest of highs, but not counting on the lowest of lows…
it was a month of lots of coziness inside, in our home which we adored. but, even as the month was one that was fairly quiet, in the end of the month, my love found out that she had been accepted to UNCA – so it was official… we are moving to the states to live out our dreams: lina to study at an american university, and me to see where the wind blew me, hoping and dreaming of writing.
february brought more cold, beautiful snow and lots of work for me. my colleague and fellow minister had a family crisis, so she was gone most of february and all of march. that meant that i filled in, preaching tons of sundays. it was a major challenge, and yet a blessing at the same time…. challenging me in ways i’d never imagined and teaching me more about who i feel called to be.
in the end of february, we flew to berlin for the weekend to visit some friends! it was the coldest weekend that i believe has ever existed, but it was still amazing! the history! the power of the places i saw and stood and felt. just amazing!
in march, we had some fun, special moments with friends, which were like tiny drops of water in an otherwise very month of feeling like we were lost in the desert. lina’s grandfather passed away, so there were many tears and responsibilities and changes. but, at the same time as the ending of one, very special and important life, spring began to make its return ever so slowly to sweden, reminding us that there is life after death, there is hope in the midst of the pain and suffering. perhaps we could hang on….
even though plans for moving to the states were well underway, things hit an even deeper bottom in april. my love, who had been fighting anorexia nervosa for about 10 years, but in 2012 had hit the hardest part of the fight, had a relapse in 2013. after spending 3 months in the hospital in 2012, lina was working hard to recover… but soon she found herself struggling again, and by april, i was terrified. luckily, she had amazing therapists and professional help who also saw the warning signs. so, in early april, lina went back to the hospital. i couldn’t believe it. my heart was breaking, but at the same time, i knew that this was what she needed to help her actually begin to leave the sickness behind… still, in many ways, it was a tough 2ish months before we moved. to be honest, during april, i was hoping & believing in lina, but there was a part of me that wondered if we would get to move & if lina would get to realize her dream of studying in the states.
i kept working, focusing mostly on the youth at the church at this point. i also had the amazing opportunity to have about 30 refugee boys from the middle east join my youth group for a night of dancing, music, & food. it was such a cool evening of breaking down barriers. working with immigrants, outcasts, those that are different or discriminated against have always been a passion of mine.
for the last day of april, we headed to uppsala, where lina’s brother lives for a huge swedish end of april/beginning of may/spring celebration. i was sooooo excited about this for many reasons: one because i had never experienced it before. and two, because my love got permission from the hospital to be away for two days…
spring arrived! we got an apartment in asheville & signed a contract! we celebrated my love’s birthday – and she was doing better! we went to see beyonce in stockholm! i took my youth on a weekend retreat in the swedish countryside! may is always a beautiful, amazing month in sweden. and this may, it finally seemed like things were changing… the move was going to happen and more importantly, my wife was on the road to recovery in a way i had never seen before. oh, the possibilities that were out there!
we headed to stockholm again for lina’s interview at the united states embassy – this was it: the final step to getting her visa and us officially being ready to move! of course, we are both nervous wrecks, but it went amazingly well, so we celebrated by spending the day in stockholm after her interview, pinching ourselves over & over again. she had a visa!
then it was down to business: a “yard sale”/flea market in our apartment to sell/give away all of our stuff. soaking up the last few moments in our cozy downtown apartment. getting tattooed up again to commemorate my time in sweden. moving out and into my love’s parents’ home for our last 3 weeks in sweden. celebrating midsummer. hanging out with special friends. time was flying by!
July (part 1: Sweden)
in july, we only had the first 2 weeks really before we moved so, it was full speed ahead: we celebrated dinner at an american friend’s home. ate summer strawberries – a swedish must! spent a week at the archipelago finishing my work and enjoying family & friends. had some very special goodbye/see you later dinners with family & friends…
July (part 2: USA) & August
we did it! we landed – all three of us. zola survived the flight across the atlantic once again, and then a crazy adventure ensued as we rented a car and took 2 days to drive from NYC down to asheville. but, we made it! and we moved right into our amaaaaazing apartment. i remember feeling so overwhelmed – much like i still feel today. and blessed, so very blessed.
we immediately got to work (after a day of exhaustion and dehydration = i needed major rest) picking up things like tv’s and furniture to make our new place feel like home. it didn’t take long… and then we were off! reconnecting with old friends and spending time with family at the beach, and soaking up everything about asheville that we had missed. august was all about fun – and i suppose it was our vacation before the semester started… that’s right. at the end of this month, my love became a college girl!
i celebrated my 39th birthday this month – pretty much all month long. hehe. it was a wild & crazy 30 days all around, though, i started my “40 days of fika” blog project, which led to so many other amazing things. not that having coffee at 40 different cafes and blogging about it wasn’t awesome enough.
i also, met new friends (lanie & charlie – fellow lessies from atlanta, who we’ll be ringing the New Year in with!), drank beer at our favorite places and found some new favorite places in west & north asheville, hung out at the pool because it was so warm, spent time with my brother, drank even more coffee, went to hear a book reading, and decided to nurture my inner-writer/photographer by taking a huge risk and renting a downtown little office space.
i decided that it was high time that i just followed my dream, took a chance, and up & rented this little space in a famous historical building in downtown asheville. it was time that i really embraced my desire to write – and to just do it! so, i did. and, in the mean time, somehow i got the nerve to just march right into a local newspaper, introduce myself, and give them a chance to see some of my writing – hoping that one day soon they would let me freelance for them a little.
to end the month, i celebrated my birthday with people that i love, at places that i love to eat, drinking lots of yummy drinks i love to drink. oh, it was an amazing birthday – one where i began to feel so very grounded in myself. connected and spiritually overflowing.
in october, i became a freelance writer!!! like, for real! it was all so overwhelming… from applying to meeting to getting an email to getting my first story in the paper and a chance to do a series of articles based on my fika blog posts! i n c r e d i b l e! i can still hardly believe it, and i’ve had 5 articles published in the paper now. it is truly a dream come true.
of course, that was the tip top of october, but the rest of it wasn’t so bad either: lots more opportunities to soak in nature – both the amazingly beautiful autumn in the mountains and the warm, summer october at the beach (lina had her fall break & we left town for a few days!). lots of beer nights and dinners with my brother – which i loooove. meeting more new friends. writing. writing. writing. north carolina state fair fun! more nature. more pubs & music. and halloween too… woo hoo!
my parents also sold their long-time home up here in the mountains and moved to the beach permanently. i’d be lying if i didn’t say that this was quite emotional and tough to live through. but, such is life. always changing, always moving on.
yes, my friend, october was a wild, crazy time. real wild. real crazy. real beautiful. life-changing in many ways, you could say…
nature went out of her way to welcome lina and i back to the mountains of north carolina during november… everywhere i looked, it was beautiful and amazing. from the colorful leaves in the beginning of the month to the bare branches in the end. and i soaked up every minute of sunshine and rain.
there were more pub nights, a spontaneous trip to ikea to stock up on christmas goodies and all things swedish that we have missed, more nature, more friends, and more silliness and awesomeness with my freaking amazing brother. i have to say, spending time with him has been one of the highlights of the past four months.
in november, thanks to my fika blog and the fact that i am writing for the newspaper (still freaking out about that!), there were some people who wanted to have a “fika group”, so i created an asheville fika group on an online site that lists meet up groups in your area, and boom! the weekly fika meet up group was born! our first meeting was in november and we had 6 people attend. our last meet up, just before christmas had us at 13 and 42 members…. crazy awesome! and so much fun to meet new people and provide a connection for others.
then, it was thanksgiving break (and the end of classes for lina!) and we headed back down to the beach yet again. it was a totally different, but totally amazing beach trip/thanksgiving holiday. relaxing. family. food. peace.
when december arrived, i could hardly believe it. it was so hard to comprehend that it was now time for the holidays for real, and that lina had completed her first semester as a student. it’s just plain insanity how fast time moves.
we immediately went to get a tree (with my bro) at a tree farm somewhere out in the country and got right to decorating and listening to christmas music practically 24 hours a day. we also headed down to raleigh to be a part of a scandinavia christmas market, complete with a lucia and everything.
we had a christmas party with friends – old & new, spent some time at biltmore estate, wrapped presents, reveled in the christmas cheer, and just did holiday stuff constantly. i spent quite a bit of time every day by myself, even some of that on my balcony because we had some crazy warm weather. i celebrated the winter solstice ceremonially with candles and lots of pondering of the light coming back to the world.
more hanging out with my brother, and celebrating a cozy christmas holiday with my parents, who came up to stay with lina and me in our apartment. then, it was time for lina and i to celebrate our wedding anniversary – four years together, stronger than ever. bliss.
i realize that there is another day left in 2013, but i’ve been working on the “the longest post ever” now for about a week, and it’s time i share it with you. i just couldn’t wait. hehe.
all in all, 2013 has been completely incredible and overwhelmingly amazing. it’s so hard to comprehend all that has happened, all that we have been through… all i can say is that i am greatly grateful for the blessings that have come to us, the dreams that have been made real, and the adventures that had been around every corner. it has not been the easiest year, but it has been the most free-spirited, magical year i have every experienced.
i will not soon forget all that has happened in 2013 and how my (our) life has changed – in all of the best & most amazing ways possible. the one thing that i can and will say before i put this post out there to the wide world is this:
believe in yourself and those whispers that your soul whispers to soul. listen to them and dig deep to find the courage to heed that which you hear and feel inside you… embrace that free-spirited nature inside of you and let the magic happen. you deserve it!