and so summer begins!

i think it’s been a few years since i’ve been as excited about summer as i am this summer. the past 2 summers have been crazy, strange, different, and somewhat difficult – well, not so much last summer. the summer of 2012 was very hard, with lina in the hospital practically the whole time; and last summer (2013) was crazy & amazing. but, it was really intense with more hospital stuff, moving out of our swedish apartment, and then our move back to the states to begin a whole new life. big stuff, ya know.

this summer began with all of our swedish visitors coming and going, and a week-long trip to new york city in-between – a pretty awesome start to the warm, sunny months, i’d say. and now, we have had a tiny bit of down time. a chance to just be at home and enjoy the quirky beauty that is asheville. and, oh, have we soaked it up.

you know, usually i do (create) a monthly photo challenge. in fact, i have been creating and participating in photo challenges for 2 years now. however, june rolled around and i thought and thought about creating something for this month. but, something inside of me was nudging me to just be. to just enjoy this month and the next – without the pressure or challenge (which are good things!) of taking a photo every day, and without having to come up with a theme to create a new list. now that it’s two weeks into june, in the midst of just enjoying the days & the moments as they pass, i am finding that, while it was weird in the beginning to not be inspired by a daily focus/prompt, it feels good to be free from a photo challenge. i think i needed a break.

all that to say, i have been more present in the moment, more aware of what is going on, and more focused on people, than on photos. of course i’ve snapped tons of photos anyway – that’s just how i roll, since i love photography. but, it’s been without planning. and without thinking. and that feels freeing. and right.

so far this june i have read a lot, written a lot of articles for the paper, worked on my fika book, enjoyed a lot of coffee and beer, dined outside every single chance i get, and – most importantly – spent tons of time with my love and our friends. from making new friends, and opening our lives & home to some lovely, lovely ladies… to celebrating with pure excitement and joy that our amazing friend paige has now moved to asheville, making it her official home, i have felt so blessed and grateful for the life that i lead.

the rest of my summer seems to only bring more excitement and fun – tomorrow, i’ve got a little road trip planned to see first aid kit in concert, some more articles to write for the paper next week, my reynolds family annual beach week in one week, and then a month-long trip to sweden for all of july. then, there’s still august!

so, no, there will not be any photo challenges for me throughout the summer. instead, i will take photos of whatever inspires me, whatever moment i want to capture and remember, whatever little moment that i want to hold dear in my heart, hoping that when i look back at the photo later on, i will look back with fondness and stir the old feelings that i once had.

now, let me share with you some of those moments from the first 12 days of june – moments that warm my soul and make me smile.
reading smores frappe

black mountain fika group me little saturday

lina and me wedge swedish flag me and lina

it was sweden’s national day on june 6th – so we flew our little swedish flag & wore sweden’s colors!

summer food

my love farm burger asheville french broad river friends

photo by lina lina and paige
photo by linathe by water katherine and me friends by the river french broad paige and me
photo by linafika double d's lina and me

i wish you all of the happiness, relaxation, joy, & adventures that you want and need. you deserve it!

peace & love. xx

 

helloooo, july.

happy first of july to all you wonderful people out there. in sweden, the sun is shining, the air is warm, and the birdies are chirping. however, i’m still stuck in my bed… blogging, reading, and watching a mini ally mcbeal marathon. re-living the first season and laughing my ass off at ally’s quirkiness. lazy multitasking at its best.

don’t worry, i will make it outside pretty soon. gonna meet a friend for a walk and perhaps some fika. who am i kidding? i live in sweden, the land of perpetual fikas and it just happens to be something i love to do as well… share a cafe visit with a friend. of course i’m gonna have fika somewhere.

i’ve been working all morning on creating a compilation of my june instagram pictures… last month i had prinstagram make one for me, and i just saved it to my computer & posted it here. but, they have updated their website and now there is no way to preview your “poster” before you pay for it. ugh. so, i had to create one on my on. it took a while, but… success!

and here’s a little sneak peak for you of what’s coming in july… but not everyday. you’ll have to check back on sundays. i’m only posting once a week, but i’m working on making my pictures a little different. of course, if you want to see my pictures daily, you can follow me on instagram. i’m @lizslens. and check out my post from yesterday if you want the july photo challenges so you can join in the photo fun!

hope you have a fantastic sunday & that the sun is shining wherever you are!

peace out from sweden.

6 down. 6 to go.

how is it possible that today is the last day of june?! where has this year gone? we are halfway through 2012 already. it’s crazy.

well, because it’s the last day of the first half of the year i thought i’d do a little looking back (you know how i am about reflecting & reminiscing. i love it.). there  have been some really great things (a visit from a friend in the states, my job becoming a permanent position, plenty of cozy moments with my love), but it has also been quite a difficult 6 months as well. the past 2 months have given me a chance to reflect a lot, and i have realized that i have been in survival mode in some ways… enjoying & clinging to the amazing moments, of which there have been plenty. but, also fighting and surviving through some really difficult things. things that require much more fighting.

but, in some ways, i think that my survival mode has been what’s kept me sane. that, and my understanding that even though things are tough, there is something beautiful to be found in every day. still, i think that my instincts to be strong & fight get me into some kind of groove where i don’t realize how bad things may be. i am an eternal optimist. and a true believer in the idea that all things teach us something, all moments, all struggles can transform us if we allow it. and it’s good that i’m like that. but, if i’m honest, and now that i can look back, i have gained much more perspective. i can see all the amazing moments and all of the moments that i felt scared & defeated. it’s a little like 2012 has been oil & vinager. good & bad. amazing & heart-breaking.

i know i haven’t written much about the heartbreak & fear on my blog, but it is very personal. perhaps one day i will tell that story. for now, though, i am still in the middle of living it. still fighting, still adjusting to changes in my life, still clinging on to hope , still fighting, and still learning. it’s still too soon to write about it publicly.

but, as i embark on the beginning of the second half of the year tomorrow, i am poised and ready to keep fighting and to keep soaking up the moments of life. i enter the second half of the year certain of how strong i am, more in love with my wife than ever, humbled by the life that i live, and inspired to grab life by the horns and follow our dreams more than ever.

i thought i’d end with my favorite picture from the instagram photo a day challenge this month. i took it when i had some wonderful moments with my love. just being together. soaking up the sun (which has not been around that much this june) and simply enjoying a little stolen moment of peace & love… even in the midst of chaos.

so, today i say goodbye to the first half of 2012. i lay it to rest and close this chapter of the year. i am ready to embark on the second half of the year, with hope, strength, and more love than i could ever imagine for the woman i share my life with. and of course, i am ready to begin my instagram photo a day challenge for july. however, i’m only gonna post my pictures once a week this month. time to switch it up again.

i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again. this photo challenge has inspired me so much. boosted my photography stills. encouraged my creative side. and most definitely given me a chance to slow down each day and see beauty even in the most ordinary and dreary moments. yes, i’m beginning my 5th month of this challenge. perhaps i’m actually going to stick with it through the whole rest of the year?!

join me if you’d like! it can be as simple or as complicated as you want it. just snap a pic & post it somewhere to share with others on Facebook, instagram, your blog, twitter, pinterest. you’ll be amazed how you will begin to see things differently. here’s the list for july thanks to chantelle at fatmumslim!

happy second half of 2012, my dear readers!!

wishing you 6 months filled with love, beauty, happiness, strength, & peace.

morning. (noon. and night.)

morning.

i woke up early this first morning of june because this cute little thingy jumped up next to my face, and began meowing for me to get up. i heard the rain pattering on the window outside, saw the gray clouds through my curtains, checked the temperature on my phone, and decided to ignore her little cries and snuggle back under the covers for a few more minutes.

i lay there thinking, “is june really here? how can it be that we are beginning the 6th month of the year already? 2012 is flying by.” zola kept bugging me to get up, so i decided it was time to get this month started. i wandered into the kitchen, started a pot of coffee, and fed the super-talkative zola. then, i continued my pondering about the beginning of june, wondering what this month has in store for me.

noon.

at noon i went to lunch at a yummy mexican restaurant with a fellow american! the picture above is the freaking awesome floor in the restaurant. the other american & i know each other from the church where i work, and have said many times that we’d love to get together, but you know how that goes… life flying by so fast. everyone so busy. what was i saying before about having a hard time believing it was june already? anyway, we passed each other on our way to work on wednesday. she sped by on her bike, as i walked  in the opposite direction. about 5 minutes later, i got a text: “was that you that i saw on my way to work?” and a few texts later we had set up a lunch date for today. cool!

it was so much fun to hang out with a fellow american, even if she’s lived here for about 20 years. i guess you’re always american deep inside. we clicked and probably could have stayed there all afternoon, but we went our separate way after an hour of talking about the states, our families, comparing notes on the plusses & minuses of living in sweden/usa, and a little theology. it was so great to connect with someone from the states… not something i get a chance to do very much. feels a little bit like home.

night.

i have spent the evening hanging out with my love. just being together. at one point she took a nap, and i entertained myself by snapping some self-portraits. hehe.

the rainy, windy, cold weather has continued from this morning, so it has been a cozy night to be inside. but, what a way to begin june. oh, north carolina summer weather, how i miss you so right now. still, in an effort to be present in this moment, i am working hard to focus on how relaxing and wonderful this evening has been.

sending you warm thoughts of sunshine, fireflies, bonfires, sand between your toes, bbq’s and late night summer walks. and if you have the pleasure of enjoying anything those things now, just know that i will be living vicariously through you… until the day that summer returns again to sweden.

peace & love.

by the way… i’m gonna mix it up with my instagram/photo a day pictures this month. but, there will be a post everyday inspired by the word of the day. promise.

day 31: something beautiful.

my something beautiful from today: our friends’/lina’s “brother’s” newborn baby girl’s hand. we’re aunts again. yippee!

good evening, good people.

well, it’s the last night of may 2012, and the birth of a beautiful baby girl into the family has gotten me thinking about beginnings & endings… wow. what a may it has been. i know i’m gonna sound cryptic & mysterious, but you’ll just have to excuse me. i’m not ready to talk about everything that’s happened. but just know that this may has been like no other i’ve ever experienced. it has, in fact, been the hardest time in my life so far, i do believe. and i know that it’s not fair to type out those words here & then not reveal what has happened, but as i said, i just can’t. i’m not ready. but, one day i will be. for now, i’ll leave you hanging. still, i have a few reflections & things i need to say.

yes, may is coming to a close. and i’m so thankful. of course there have been some beautiful moments, and i have tried to reflect them here, with my little photo a day challenge. but, to be honest, i am so ready to move onto june. you know, though, the photo challenge has been really good for me. the past few months have given me a chance to get in the groove of snapping photos every day, figuring out ways to create an image of whatever word i was faced with that day, and getting my creative juices flowing. but, this month, i dare say that the photo challenge saved my sanity. i had something every day forcing me to find something beautiful, creative, and lovely in it. and, you know what? i always did.

you know, it’s amazing. no matter what i am going through – and i say “i”, because i can only speak for myself – i find that, if i put my mind to it, if i let myself think & breathe for just a moment, then i will find something beautiful every day. something to be thankful for. something to soak in. something to touch my soul. something to remind me of the hope that is always there. something to point me in the direction i want to go. something to connect me with my love.

as may comes to a close, i just have a few things to say to you all. life is difficult and so scary that it feels as if you will be lost in a dark hole, never to be found. but, i guarantee that there is something beautiful to be found with the rising of the sun each day (because the sun does rise. every day). and, if you are as lucky as me to have someone to share it with, then hold onto that love. don’t take it for granted, and love like there is no tomorrow. trust yourself to be stronger than you ever imagined. you can & will survive more than you ever thought possible. and, on your way, in the midst of the darkness, slow down just enough to feel all the pain, sadness, & fear… and then, remember that you are not alone. remember that there is a tiny crack providing one sliver of light. and never, ever stop being you.

dear month of may, you have been a challenge (that’s an understatement). but, as i live & breathe in these last few minutes of you, i feel strength & hope because i have survived you. tomorrow is a new day. a new month. a new hope. and even though all the difficulty has not disappeared, maybe it’s become a little less daunting. in any case, i welcome you, june. bring with you sunshine, light, life, hope, and a new beginning. i beg of you. however, no matter what comes my way, i will face it, and i will find myself on the other side, waiting for july to come rushing in, in a mere 30 days. in the meantime, i will continue to click away with my camera… capturing those beautiful moments that pop up randomly and unexpectedly in life. i will continue to allow myself to seek beauty & snap photos… no matter what june brings.

what an amazing gift it is to find art every day, even in the dark.

my photo a day may pictures. something beautiful every day.

yep. count me in. here we go again! you are gonna join me, aren’t you? if not to take pictures, then to come back & check out mine, right?

may beauty follow you everywhere you go. peace.