the power of blogging. or, the day that paige came to town.

if you’re reading this, then you must know a little about blogging. you may even have your own blog. and if you’re not a blogger yourself, then you at least appreciate the blog world in one way or another. perhaps you are simply a supporter and reader of blogs. perhaps you are a long-time blog enthusiast, or perhaps you just stumbled onto this page. most likely, though, you fall somewhere in the middle of the blog-lover spectrum.

no matter what kind of blogger or blog-reader you are, though, you are aware of the power of blogging. whether blogs are places to receive inspiration or information, or places that you go to, to share your thoughts and ideas, they are little corners of cyberspace that connect like-minded people and provide endless ways to feel a connection with the world.

they can be a way to keep in contact with family and friends that are far away (the reason i started this blog when i moved to sweden). or they can be a way to seek out new connections. but, if you think about it, it actually doesn’t require any commitment to read a blog, or to even leave a comment on someone’s blog. and, unless you are blogging for work, it doesn’t require any commitment to write on your own blog. it’s up to each one of us how much we want to put into or get out of the blog world. which is a good thing, i believe. it means that blogging and blog-reading is an individual decision that we can adapt and add to our lives in the ways that we want to.

no pressure. no rules. just inspiration and fun.

so, since blogging is so unrestricted and free, requiring no real commitment, can it ever be really powerful as a social tool? like, to make friends, i mean. of course, the content of a blog can be a powerful way to send out a message to the world. however, how many of you have considered that it is a place to form real friendships? i suppose we most often read blogs of people we don’t know, and assume we will never know. but, then, there are some of us who blog and comment and comment and blog on each others’ blogs for a while, and actually feel like we have become what i like to call “blogging buddies”. we know little bits and pieces of each others’ lives, but we don’t know what it’s like to be together IRL (in real life).

until we do…

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i suppose it can seem a little creepy to follow someone’s posts and thoughts online for a while, and then decide to meet him or her in real life. it’s creepy because, there is that “no rule” rule with blogs. what if you plan to meet someone and you, or they, have not been totally honest? what if in real life the person (or you) is not how they “appear” or present themselves online? what if you don’t get along? or if it’s awkward? or dangerous – most likely it won’t be if you have actually formed an online, long-term relationship of comments and emails and support back & forth.

plus, there’s the whole distance issue. so many people that i am blogging buddies with live all over the world, so it’s not very practical to meet up. practical? it’s not possible.

but, every now and then, something serendipitous happens, and it becomes possible to meet a blogging friend face to face. and, in my opinion, it’s a good idea to just go for it! especially if that person’s blog, photos, and words have been an inspiration. especially if that person has been someone that you’ve followed and read for a long time – and the feeling (stalking. hehe.) has been mutual.

i had my first opportunity to meet a blogging buddy last fall. lanie and i had been reading & commenting on each others’ blogs for about 2 years before we met face to face. and it was soooo much fun meeting her. the bonus thing was that i brought along my love and she brought along her love, and the four of us girls became fast friends (IRL). so much so, that we keep in contact with each other and even spent new year’s eve together this year. it’s been such a blessing to have taken that leap of faith! the four of us are true friends now  – and my life is richer because of it.

about 2 weeks ago, i had the opportunity again to meet a fellow blogging buddy of mine. fortheloveofwanderlust is a blog i’ve been following for more than two years. i have no idea how paige and i found each other, but we immediately became supporters of each others’ blogs, and more importantly, lives. our friendship then extended to instagram, which allows you to be able to connect with someone in a more daily, intimate way. we kept in touch through our blogs, photos, comments and emails, and have even snail-mailed each other a few times.

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i just knew that this wanderlusting, travel-loving chick was an awesome person, and definitely someone i’d love to meet one day. well, one day became possible a few weeks ago, as i found out that she was doing a solo road trip across the southeast in january. of course i invited paige to stay with me & lina so we could meet and so she could see asheville – i knew she’d love it here.

so, the day that lina and i returned from walt disney world, my amazing blogging buddy paige made it to asheville to spend the weekend with us!

what has happened because of that little weekend – which was extended to 4 days because we were having so much fun and because there was so much to see & do – is that we have formed a very real, very tight, amazing friendship, keeping in touch via texts and phone calls every day since she left asheville. this amazing chick totally clicked with us – and it actually felt like she just belonged here.

all this to say:

  1. we had a ton of fun together!
  2. our friendship grew because of a chance to meet face to face.
  3. we got along so well, that we have exciting plans to share more things in the future. eeeek!
  4. liz (me) & lina (my love) love paige, who is an amazing travel blogger (go check her out at for the love of wanderlust by clicking here).
  5. if you have a blog and it is at all possible to meet a fellow blogger… DO IT.

so, while blogs are fun little hobbies, they can also be powerful ways to strengthen and form relationships. i had no idea when i started blogging that i’d make actual, real friends. i had no idea that spending time with someone that i had “met” through similar interests on the internet could become such a great friend and support. but, it’s possible. and it’s powerful. and i am so thankful. paige, you have reserved yourself a special place in our hearts. we love you to pieces.

now, it’s time for y’all to enjoy some fun photos from the amazing time that we had when paige came to town! hopefully it’s inspire you to go out and meet new friends!

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alrighty, peeps. who do i get to meet next?!

peace and love. xx

* photos with me & paige taken by my love, lina. thanks, baby.
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belovelive’s 1st contest begins now!

i need your opinion. or advice. or both. i’m looking for comments and suggestions, so you better put on your thinking caps…

ready?

ok. since i am moving to the states, specifically to asheville, north carolina, a place that i totally love with all my heart. and since i am closing one chapter:  “my expat life in sweden”  and beginning the next one, i decided that it was a great time for a belovelive upgrade. a sort of overhaul to mark the passing of time, a physical change in countries, and the beginning of a new adventure.

  • a new design. definitely.
  • new categories. new widgets. a new feel. count on it.
  • a new focus? perhaps.

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of course, this space will still be belovelive… my corner on the internet block to write about my life as an expat (but now with the twist of living in my home country, but definitely not the same person i was when i left). and, of course, i’ll take lots of photos. and try to be inspirational/positive = pumping all you up to remember to always be true to yourself… because you’re amazing just the way you are! with that, there will also be my continued dip into spirituality & matters of faith. of course, there will be lgbt issues to tackle, along with other current events & politics. and i’ll write about daily life, only in asheville, instead of in norrköping.

yeah. it’ll be belovelive as usual. but not. belovelive… americanized. hippie-fied (due to living in asheville).

here’s where you come in:

i want to hear from you, my readers, what suggestions & thoughts you have for belovelive’s move to the states. it’s not that i’m going to take what you say & turn my blog into what you think it should be; but as we have created this relationship with each other, and since we will be growing together into a new phase of our relationship, i want to hear from you!

  • what do you want to hear/see more of from me?
  • what are your favorite posts/themes/subjects?
  • what’s missing?

here’s your mission:

vote in the poll below. you have one week to do it. try to decide which one of the topics listed in the poll is your favorite. and vote. if your favorite isn’t there, then leave a comment and tell me what it is. and then vote for you second favorite anyway. voting and commenting will really help me to know what i am doing right. or wrong, i suppose too. hehe.

after you have voted. you have voted now, right? then keep thinking. and leave me a comment below. anything you want to say about belovelive. creative thoughts? tips? subject matters or categories you think i should use? your favorite posts? anything. i realize i am opening myself up to possible negative things, but i can take it.

by commenting, you will be entered into belovelive’s first contest!! its open to any & everyone, no matter where you live. leave a comment and your name will go into a bowl. my love will draw the lucky winner’s name out of the bowl, and the winner will be the recipient of a bunch of my favorite/typical swedish things. it’ll be a surprise for you!

the contest closes next sunday, june 30. the name will be drawn on monday july 1, and the winner will be announced here on belovelive the same day.

mark your calendars for the the relaunch of belovelive happening the week that i move to the states… july 15. after i receive all of your amazing comments and check out the voting results, i’ll get to work on the new design for belovelive. i can’t wait to see all that you have to say, all the ideas you have to offer!

so, to sum up one more time:

  1. i need your help.

  2. vote in the poll in this blog post

  3. leave a comment with suggestions/ideas/thoughts about improvements or ideas for belovelive, and be entered into belovelive’s first contest!

  4. the contest & comments & voting all close next sunday, june 30. so, get going!

  5. the contest winner will be announced monday, july 1 here on the blog.

  6. belovelive will relaunch on the week of july 15 (before july 18!)!

while most of the changes here will simply be cosmetic and all about graphic design/organization, i want to assure you that belovelive will always be a place where the focus is on:

being who we are,

loving everyone exactly as they are, and

living life to the fullest.

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from the bottom of my heart, i thank you so much for being a reader and/or follower, whether you comment or not. each one of you have been a blessing to me, and you inspire me to write and post and share. the relationships i have formed through blogging, the friends & family with whom i have stayed in touch over the years, have all touched and enriched my life in ways that i’d never imagined possible. and it feels so amazing to say that i have friends, all of you, all around the world. what a joy it is to have started this little blog. and how it has grown in more ways than i thought possible!

now, it’s on to making belovelive even better! here’s to sharing the next chapter together!

peace & love, dear readers.

guest post celebration: the unbeaten path.

exploring maybeland is a blog about dreams. again,i have no idea when or how our blogs crossed, but following dreams is one of the things that nic and i have in common. i believe that we kindred spirits that are chasing our dreams need each other, so that’s why i am thankful for nic. she has a vision for her life, and she is going after it… full-speed ahead going after it. and that’s inspiring. to me and to others that read her blog. so, go and do it, after you read what she has to share with us here.

when i asked nic if she would do a guest post, she replied with an excited yes and then asked me if i’d do a guest post for her blog. sooo cool. love this collaborative give & take relationship! so, i’m looking forward to writing about exploring the maybes in my life. and i’ll be sure to let y’all know when my post is on her blog.

but for now, without any further ado, i present to you the inspiring and beautiful words of my blogging buddy from germany, as she shares a bit of exploring maybeland with us right here on belovelive.

nic maybe

Are you sometimes unsure if you’re life is going into the right direction? Do you sometimes feel the urge to leave the beaten path and just carve your own way through the wilderness that lies beyond paved roads? Is the only thing holding you back your fear of what others might say or think if you really did? Here’s my advice for you: Just do it! Take that step into the unknown. Be brave. Ignore your fear. Just take that one step. And then another one. And another one. Because that urge you’re feeling right there, it’s there for a reason. It’s your true self calling to take you on the right path. Even if you don’t know where it might lead you to. It doesn’t matter. The goal will become visible sooner or later. You just have to start searching.

I started my own search more than one year ago. At first I didn’t know what to do with this strange longing that grew stronger and stronger everyday. It wasn’t unfamiliar, that feeling. I’d tried to ignore it by pursuing a career in PR. By running away to Japan for a year to escape from it all. But it always came back, stronger it seemed. So I started to accept it. As a reason to start searching for a new direction for my life. Something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. A purpose. Let me tell you, it’s easier said than done, but it does get better. At first I felt lost. So many possibilities. So many doubts. Where should I start? But then, one day, it was just there. It came out of nowhere, from the bottom of my mind. I literally found a song in my head. Well, rather a piece of a song, but after some hours of working on it, I had written my first proper song. And from that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. What I had been looking for all this time. A way to express myself, to send my message out into this world, to connect with like-minded people. I discovered music.

But how do you start when you suddenly find your love for making music aged 29? Your only experience with singing being long karaoke nights in Tokyo and the occasional hummed tune while taking a shower? Well, by taking one step after the other. I started to sing as much as I could. I bought a book on singing. I wrote more songs. And after a while I started looking for people to work with me on my dream. On making real music, together, as a band. It was a rocky road. Full of disappointment when nothing seemed to happen for ages. Full of desperation when I auditioned for a band and failed horribly. And full of joy when I finally found someone who believed in the potential of my work and my talent. Probably even more than I did. Suddenly, it wasn’t just me by myself anymore. I found a companion. Not only for making music, but also for life. I had never expected for this to happen, not in my wildest dreams. But after making music together for several months, we fell in love. After years and years of being single I found that one person I can’t imagine my life without anymore. My soulmate who shares the same beliefs and dreams with me. All because I took that one step into the unknown.

We’re still travelling on a rocky road. But we’ve learned how to deal with obstacles in our way and the moments of joy are slowly starting to dominate. After many months of searching for people to make our band complete, of being rejected and let down, it finally looks like we got lucky. We’ve been rehearsing as a full band for a couple of weeks now and it’s just amazing to see the songs I created in my mind come to life. It’s mind-blowing what a group of dedicated people is capable of creating. And I can’t wait to share our work with the world one day. I’m dying to go out on a stage soon. And when we do, I’m sure it’s gonna be beyond amazing. This is the adventure of my lifetime and I couldn’t be happier that I took that one initial step and didn’t just wipe the idea away like I had done with others so many times before. Because this is who I really am. This is who I want to be. And that’s all that matters.

peace.

guest post celebration: moments of mezz.

 

 

up first in my little guest post celebration series is heather from moments of mezz (go check her out after you read this!). i love to read heather’s posts. she writes about her wonderings & thoughts as an introverted 20 something, shares her deep passion for her dogs, for the tv show 24, and for starbucks coffee, and she refines her mad photography skills as each day passes.

one day, in the beginning of belovelive’s life, i had a comment from the mezz. i don’t remember exactly what she said or which post it was, but i remember thinking that she was so sweet in complimenting my photos. soon, heather was leaving her footprints all over my blog. and, of course, i had stalked her blog, and decided that i needed to follow her too. thus, began this blogosphere, instagram, Facebook, cyber friendship that we now have had for quite a while.

i know that heather is on a journey toward inner peace, and one day she asked me to write about my journey… how i had achieved such inner peace in my life. it was heather who was the catalyst to kickstart my “from death to peace” series here. she got my book on a roll. so, she is actually a very important blog friend and influence in my life. yep. i am truly thankful for the friendship that we’ve begun, even if it’s only over social media at this point. though, in many ways, i feel like i know her. and i am certain that, once i’m back in the states, we will get together and meet face to face! how amazing will that be?!

but, for now, i’ll let heather’s voice take over. thank you, heather, for being a guest blogger on belovelive!

my dear readers, with great pleasure & excitement, i introduce to you moments of mezz:

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What does be.love.live. mean? Although I can’t remember the first time I stumbled upon Liz’s blog, nor the circumstances that led to it, I do remember reading her header and feeling the peace it exuded.

Be. The quiet confidence. Love. The inner steadiness. Live. The representation of an anchor, finding the niche that holds. In a way, those three words were everything I did not have, do not have, and am searching for.

 I’ve been in this life for barely 22 years. The first ten years of those life were dedicated to learning  a little bit about how the big world (and those in it) works. The next ten years were a more specified type of learning, that of which is more self-centered and egotistical: puberty, responsibility, fitting in, etc. Have you ever noticed that the most confusing years of a person’s life (which is generally adolescence) is spent trying to figure yourself out? Then, with those twenty years of experience, you’re shoved into the “adult” world to contribute to the society in which you decide to live.

I did not learn how to “just be” in my first twenty years of life. I did not allow myself to learn how to be myself because I was too busy looking over my shoulder, a strong distrust and wariness of people having been ingrained into my unconscious. But it became apparent that figuring myself out wasn’t completely alone in the spotlight anymore: “love all.”  Love who you are, they said. But who, I thought, do I love? What do I love? 

Almost finished with my college career, the aspect of “live life” has now come into awareness. And whilst I have made steps with just being, learning who I am, and who I want to be, there is still a long way to go. This life is a journey. And man am I glad I’ve gotten the chance to take it.

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Peace.

celebrating 2 years of being, loving, & living!

created & designed by lier.se

created & designed by my love at www.lier.se

two years ago today i launched & introduced belovelive.com.

back then, i was a simple little american adjusting to her 7th month living in sweden. i was in the middle of my swedish studies, and barely able to squeak out a few swedish words. i was a stay-at-home wife, soaking up every single thing that my eyes saw and that my ears heard. living in europe was a dream come true, and i found myself needing to pinch myself constantly to remind myself that all this was real.

come to think of it, not that much has changed since then. i still find myself overwhelmed with gratitude that i live the life that i do. the biggest differences are that i am completely immersed in swedish society now.

back then, i felt like an american trying to find her way about in a foreign country. today, i have a job, speak the language (of course not perfectly), and i still feel totally american, but i’m not searching for my place in a foreign society anymore. sweden has become home to me.

back then, i wrote and posted mostly on my daily life. meeting people in my swedish class. soaking up the city. and all of those first year experiences that go with living some place new. i also blogged about being married to a woman, lgbt rights in the states, in sweden, and within the church – where i was left out. and i took pictures. lots of pictures. perhaps i had 2 to 3 other people, besides my parents, who checked my blog every few days or so. i most definitely did not have any commenters, and having someone “like” my post made my day (well, that’s still true, actually. hehe.).

as time passed, i gained a few followers, and, more importantly, as i spent more and more time blogging & writing, i realized that this is what i want to do. this is what i’m meant to do. write. write. write. travel. and write. think. and write. contemplate. and write. take photos. and write. over the past 2 years, i have realized that this is my dream. and it has been all along. this is who i am. this is how i work best. interpreting the world in my own way. i realized  that writing could perhaps be my contribution to the world, as i dream of each person fulfilling his or her dreams, living his or her life to the fullest, and living from the soul. i understood, by writing and posting almost every day, that i have a voice. i have something to say, photos to share, a message for the world. and i am so blessed that you all have found me somehow, stuck with me, and allowed me a chance to speak and create and share.

i don’t know how, or when, or where, all of you dear readers showed up, but you did. and so many of you have stayed around. and, of course, there are those of you who have been here all along. and you all have opened your lives to me as well through your blogs, providing me endless inspiration and entertainment. and to those of you you don’t have blogs, but still check in here faithfully, caring enough to simply read my thoughts or look at my photos, i owe you a big thanks as well. i am indebted to each one of you… you have made a difference in my life. you have helped me to become who i am today. you have fueled my passion for writing, travel, and photography. you have meant so much to me on this journey for the past 2 years.

and i can’t wait to see what the futures holds! i can’t wait to discover, with y’all, new ways of being. new ways of loving. and new ways of living. cause, in my opinion, that’s what it’s all about. it always has been. and always will be.

as a part of my two year celebration this week, i will be featuring 4 different guest bloggers, so be on the lookout for them! i am truly excited because these bloggers are fantastic and amazing each in their own way. i can’t wait to share their thoughts and posts with y’all!

be exactly who you are.

love all exactly as they are.

and live your life to the fullest.

happy belovelive anniversary! peace and love.

gettin’ our party on in april.

march’s journey is complete. we have traveled from darkness to light. literally, here in sweden. the time changed last night, so we are now  livin’ it up with much longer days. tonight, it’s almost 7:30 and the sun is still shining. in a month or so, it’ll be 10:30pm and the sun’ll still be shining. ya gotta love the long summer days in sweden. and we deserve them after living through the long, dark winter nights for 5 months. yep.

so, for now, we say goodbye to the darkness. goodbye to march. and goodbye to march’s journey, which for me, has been a journey inward. i had no idea how much the daily word prompts would affect and inspire me, but they did. i believe that i experienced the time before easter (= lent) in a whole different way this year. and it was something that was good for me, though it didn’t feel that good all of the time.

march has been a crazy month. super busy. filled with work and lots of worry. many moments were wonderful. and many moments were tough. yet, the month has been transformative. i’m not sure how yet. but, i am certain that i have learned a few more things about myself. and about life. needless to say, i am more than happy to move on to a new month in the morning. but, i move on, stronger than i was before i embarked on this photo journey. and ready, more than ever, to see what comes next.

first, though, here’s a little collage of all of my photos from the march challenge. a little peek at my journey through march.

march 2013

i am so thankful for all of you who have been following along, whether you’ve been reading & commenting, posting pictures on instagram or your blog, or showing me some love on Facebook and/or instagram. i feel so honored to be part of such an inspiring group of people from all over the world. it is truly amazing to have this cyber-connection with people, and it is something that fuels me and energizes me. i cannot really express the joy you all bring me, just by visiting me here. sending out love to you all.

now, for those of you who are into this photo challenge thing (and i encourage you to be into it. hehe!), i’ve got a great one prepared for april! i took advantage of all of y’alls creativity again, and used your words to create the list. so, once again, april is a collaborative effort. love that.

drum roll, please…. here it is!

april

i decided, before i asked for your help, that the theme for april would be something celebratory. after such a long journey of ups and downs in march, it was time to celebrate being alive. plus, it’s the beginning of spring up here in the northern hemisphere and mother nature inspires us to celebrate life. so, that’s what we’re gonna do in april!

“they” say that practicing the power of the present moment, of seeking to be present and grateful each day is something that can transform our attitudes, our health, and our perspectives. so, in april, come what may, i’m planning on finding a way to celebrate life. i’m planning to live life to the fullest in one way or another. every. single. day.

and i invite y’all to join me!

seriously, though. why not spend 30 days finding a way to celebrate life? why not snap a photo of something worth celebrating every day? why not get those creative juices flowing now that spring is on its way (or find ways to celebrate the next stage in life, as fall begins to creep up on you southern hemisphere-ers)? why not push yourself to be a little artsy? why not?

if you decide to join me, the only thing i ask is for you to:

  • let me know you’re participating – here on my blog (comment below), on belovelive’s new Facebook page, on instagram (@lizslens), or on twitter (@elre74).
  • use the hashtag #bllphotoaday on your photos
  • try to snap a picture each day & use an original one (no throw-backs, unless you just have to. that’s a part of the challenge)

now, there is no pressure here. if you begin the challenge & then wimp out… no biggie. i’ve done that soooo many times. make it what you want. all i ask is that you give yourself a chance to express yourself. and if it’s not for you, then no prob. if you feel stressed out, skip a day or two & come back to it. it’s all about you – being creative and celebrating your life.

not totally on board yet?

ok. well, here’s why i love these photo challenges = what you get out of it:

  1.  the community – if you share your photo,use the hashtag (#bllphotoaday) and explore other people, you will meet some pretty cool fellow artists from all over the world. i guarantee it.
  2. the juices – creative juices start to flow. overflow, even. you’ll find yourself taking pictures you never thought you’d take. you’ll beging to develop your artist’s eye, and start to see art every freaking where you look. downside: you may annoy people you are with because you want to stop & snap a photo every few feet/meters.
  3. the roses – looking for a way to capture the theme word for each day teaches you to slow down. to notice things you don’t normally notice because you are usually too busy flitting about. you begin to see that every day holds something beautiful to discover.

save the image on your phone, or on your desktop, or on your facebook page, or bookmark this post. check out the word for the day – all of them are a variation of/connection to love… hence, the 28 days of love.

now, this list may look challenging. i think it is. i’m a little freaked out by it. but, i’m gonna see what i come up with. no need to just take pictures of the same old stuff over & over again, right?

every day you’ll find a word that has something to do with life… use the words for each day as a prompt. i’m not gonna give any suggestions for each of the words. i’ll let you interpret them how you will. some are tough. some are not. just snap a shot of something that represents or symbolizes the word of the day. reflect on it a little. it will come to you. and whatever you do, it will be a beautiful expression of you.

so, with no further ado… let the party begin! it’s time to dance on the tables, drink champagne, laugh till our bellies hurt, breathe in deeply, appreciate what’s around us, and soak up every little moment of life. it’s great to be alive!

here’s to snapping photos! cheers!

peace.