i wanna graduate from high school in sweden.

last friday was graduation day for many “high school” students in sweden. well, at least in my city. we had a family member (lina’s cousin) who graduated from the music program… and he graduated highest in the school!! the celebrations here are much, much different than how we do it in the states. everything feels much more celebratory here. and the students who are graduating celebrate with dinners, breakfasts, fikas, bbq’s, parties, all week long. then, on graduation day, family & friends stand outside the school building as groups of students (a class = the 25ish students who study in the same program for the 3 years they are in “high school”) run out in their suits or white dresses and graduation caps. they sing a song, do a cheer, and then find their way through the crowd to their families, who are standing & holding a big sign with a picture of the student as a child on it. it’s really a great tradition! and i was so excited to be a part of it (from a family perspective) for the first time!

all other students have closing ceremonies all over the city on the last day of school. one was at the church where i work, so i went to it in the morning before the graduation later in the afternoon. it just so happened that a lot of the youth that i work with and family members were a part of this closing ceremony. so, two birds with one stone. yes!

here are some shots from the day:

 a group of 6th graders who are in a music program in school… their musical talent impresses me every time i hear them! in the pic are family members & youth. after this concert is over, their summer began!

 a little celebratory fika for all the kids in the family who had their last day of school. yum yum yum!

 now the graduation! families & friends waiting with their signs. so exciting!

 students looking down from the windows, waiting for their turn to run out on stage to officially graduate.

alfred’s (lina’s cousin) class on stage. yay!

 the sign. cool, huh?

cousins hugging… congratulations, alfred! stort grattis och lycka till!!!

and the after graduation tradition… ride around the city in a truck/tractor with music blaring, toasting each other, singing, & yelling. so basically, there are these trucks all over the city all day long. so much fun!

i wanna have a swedish graduation. doesn’t it look like so much fun?!

peace out.

yellow & blue. all day long.

about 10 days ago it was the anniversary of my graduation from high school. guess how many years it’s been? twenty!! yes, 2.0. 20!!! i cannot believe that i am old enough o be celebrating 20 hers since i graduation from high school. i was 17 and the whole world was in front of me. well, as an american what wanted to get a job, going to college/university was what was ahead for me. that’s the drill for most americans, those who have gotten scholarships or can afford to pay, that is. anyway, the fact is, if you want a job in the states that will give you health insurance and enough money to live (but not be rich, although that can happen too, i’ve heard), then you’d better get yourself directly to a university, some place of high education in order to get a degree. in something. anything.

let’s not even get into the discussion of all those teenagers who don’t do well in school, who can’t afford to go to a university but instead have to get a low-paying job anywhere that will hire them without skills or education, or who aren’t ready to choose (at the age of 18) what they want to do for the rest of their lives…

the typical path to follow is college. directly after high school graduation. ok. you get the summer off, but then. back to school. for 4 or more years. if you’re lucky.

today i watched lina’s amazingly talented & smart cousin’s “graduation” from “high school”. quotation marks are necessary because it’s not graduation like you might think it, american friends. nope. it’s way more of a celebration. and it’s not exactly high school, but it is. it’s the best way to describe it so you understand. in any case, it was a bunch of 18-ish year olds finishing their courses of study before moving on their next adventure in life… like a folk school. think community college, but how they should be. without the negative connotation. here they are seen as great educational places. just another option & a place to study some higher education, but for a shorter period of time usually & with the aim of learning some specific skills… from social work to restaurants to photography to child care. you name it.  or a university. or a year to travel. or a chance to be an au pair/nanny. or a job (because some have studied something specific in high school that leads directly to a job – like medical technician or child care).

my point is, there are plenty of legitimate, well-respected options from which to choose.

my wife’s cousin is a musician and has been accepted into a really great music school, so that’s his direction so far. anyway. today we watched him run out with his class (and by class i do not mean 350 students who have all been in the same grade. i mean a class of about 25 who have studied together for 3 years), sang some songs, and looked for their families to collect hug after hug of congratulations.

i’ve got tons of pictures from today on my nikon, but i won’t have time to deal with them until monday sometime. so, you’ll see a lot more then. for now, here’s the picture of the day: yellow flowers (yellow is the word today) we bought to hang around the neck of lina’s cousin. it’s a crazy flower necklace kinda thing. in yellow & blue. sweden’s official colors. everybody gets them.

i’ve also got a few more fun peeks into the last day of school for everyone. but, more pics coming in a few days, i promise!

for now, i’m off to dreamland. hope you have a great friday night and a fabulous weekend. i’ll let you know what i’m up to this week shortly tomorrow morning before i am out of touch for 2 days…

goodnight. and peace.

up-close. (and personal).

today’s photo challenge prompt is up-close. i first took a picture of the bracelet i was wearing, making it look a little artsy. you can see it here. then, i snapped this up-close shot of myself.

that got me thinking about being up-close & personal…

i got a request in the form of a blog comment the other day from heather. the request is to share my path to inner peace here on my blog in a series of posts. wow. a request to write about my journey in life. that’s a first & i must say, it feels humbling & amazing. i’ve been thinking about it since then… and i think i’ll do it.

you see, it could be a great motivation for me. a few years ago i decided that i really wanted to write a book about the past few years in my life. a kind of memoir of life-changing experiences & moments, which wind through my journey toward inner peace, to living from my soul, to learning to simply be me… including graduate school, a divorce, death, trips around the world, a marriage to a woman, struggles with how to be me, and the biggest move of my life so far. if i begin this series of blog posts, then i would, in effect, be beginning my book – which i have not really begun yet because i’m the world’s worst procrastinator. well, i have the first sentence. so, win-win situation, right? when i’m done with the blog series, hopefully i’ll be well on my way to getting my book going so that i can have it published one day.

ok. i’m ready to be up-close & personal with you all.

and it feels quite amazing to make this decision today. twenty years ago (20!!!) i graduated from high school. i cannot believe that it has been that long. when i graduated, i thought that celebrating/hitting the 20 year graduation mark only happened to old people. but, i was wrong. i’m not old at all. so, it feels so crazy that it was so long ago. i did not like myself much back then. i felt so different. i still feel different now, but i embrace that difference. i love the difference now. i love being 37 instead of 17.

it feels perfect to decide to begin to write about my journey from a shy, unsure, outcast girl uncomfortable in her own skin and unaware of anything that she wanted out of life to a woman who knows herself and follows her bliss on this day. it’s been a 20 year journey, and i think the time is right to begin. time to reflect & share up to this point. then, i set out on the next 20 years.

so, be watching. the posts will begin soon. as soon as i figure out where/how to start. hehe. thanks for the challenge, heather. i look forward to writing! hope y’all will enjoy reading.