manifesting your dreams: my summer solstice celebration

summer sunset

as you may have figured out, if you have been reading my blog for a while, i love certain times of the year that lend themselves to reflection and renewal: times like the new calendar year, anniversaries, birthdays, certain religious/spiritual holidays (lent) and changes of the season.

with the changes of the seasons, there is often a celebration of the solstice – especially during the winter & summer solstice. there is so much symbolism within these seasons and the cycles of life that they represent. in the winter, we are surrounded by darkness, but it is a cold and a darkness that down not overcome us – as the holiday evergreen trees remind us. and, in the summer, as the days become lighter and brighter, and we soak up the rays of the sun on the longest day of the year, we celebrate life once again – and use the light to reenergize us and motivate us to keep on keeping on.

so, since we are celebrating the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, and since we’re all filled with the joy and energy of the sun today, i figured it’d be a great time, a halfway mark, to revisit my goals for 2014 and gather all of the energy and inspiration i can from this beautiful, life-filled season that i need to push myself forward to keep working on making my dreams come true in the second half of 2014.

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my word for 2014 is paradise: i decided that throughout this year, I wanted to focus on  learning how to create my own paradise – to live the life that i feel called to live. to follow my heart, my soul, and my dreams – and to make things happen.

what follows below is a list of the words that i identified and i dreamed up at the beginning of 2014 - words that, i believed, would help me create my paradise – the life that i wish to lead. so, let’s see how i’m doing so far. have i been creating my own paradise? is paradise still even a relevant word for me for 2014?

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  • what i’ve done: on random days, i have found myself just heading up some mountain road nearby; not for some extended period of nature activities, but for little drives and stops close to where i live. it’s so easy to access the high mountains here, and just going for a 20 minute drive with a moment to stop and breathe and look out, renews my soul a bit. i’ve also visited some parks to walk or just spend some time, and walked around in the urban places of asheville as well. i suppose it’s been about fitting in little increments of time in nature within my daily life – still, i crave more.
  • what i want to do: camping. enough said. so, for the last half of 2014, i will find some time to go camping and spend some extended time in nature – off the grid. period.

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spiritual

  • what i’ve done: i participated in a mediation series, which i did at home on my gorgeous meditation pillow (a favorite gift from my love last year). i’ve also worn my jape mala beads, which actually have served as a reminder – every time i look down at them or feel them – to breathe, focus, and be present in the moment. i’ve also let go of a lot of guilt i have had about not being connected to any christian church at the moment – that’s just not where i am right now, and my love and i have talked about that a lot. she’s been such a great support as i continue to seek freedom and connection in my spiritual life. i have found a lot of freedom in making personal time important and rediscovering spiritual rituals and disciplines that i have always loved. as for community, my fika group that meets every wednesday, has been an endless sours of inspiration, challenging me, offering me different opinions, and giving me a chance to use my spiritual gifts.
  • what i want to do: yoga. like on a regular basis. a class. i will create that time and make it a priority. the end. (or the beginning… hehe).

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magical

  • what i have done: well, i did this with my love. we created the perfect balcony setting. it is a magical place – morning, noon, and night. but, especially at night. with candles flickering, cozy lights hung around, friends that gather to sit and chat, comfy seating, some green plants. it’s just been the perfect spot. in fact, i’m enjoying its magic right now as i type this.
  • what i want to do: more of the same. more lights. more candles. more native american influences. more buddhas. more fireflies. amen.

spring balcony magic

simple

  • what i’ve done: i’ve read a lot. simply cozied up somewhere, and read. and i’ve taken photos – a lot of photos – of random, ordinary things. i’ve also experimented with making my photos more minimalist. we changed our bedroom around, stripped it down and made it very simple – the best place to have a lie in, or a cozy evening watching netflix with twinkling lights over our head. i’ve listened and loved the hear people jump in the pool – the *splash* sounds like life. and no tv. i’ve cut way back on turning on the tube just to have sound. i’ve let silence flow into my life – and it has been so sweet.
  • what i want to do: i’m canceling my cable subscription and going all netflix. no more tv in this home. there’s too much other amazing stuff to experience in life. also, i want to cook more – but, that goes with the next word…

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healthy

  • what i’ve done: i’ve worked out… some. not much, and definitely not enough. i have also cut out most drinks (minus coffee, beer, and wine – as i am sure you can tell) from my life that are not water or juice. yes, i still have the occasional coca cola, but, if you new me before, you’d know that i practically had an iv of coca cola in my arm. i don’t even miss it much now. woo hoo!
  • what i want to do: cook more and eat better – much. much more fresh food. i want to make the farmer’s market a weekly destination to stock up on local fruits and veggies, and eat what’s in season, in that season. of course, i want to work out and move around more – i need to. plus, that will boost my energy level even more. so, exercise and yoga. boooyah.

tacos food

wandering

  • what i’ve done: we’ve had tons of visitors in asheville during the first half of the year, and it has been amazing. i’ve wandered in these mountains, showing off the best that the asheville area has to offer, visiting old favorite places and a few new. i’ve also been to new york city for a week – which was incredible! and all i did there was wander. it was like an urban heaven.
  • what i want to do: i’ve got more travel planned – much more! the beach with my family next week – an old, familiar, nostalgic trip i love. then, sweden in a week!! for a whole month! later on the year, we may be headed back to nyc to do some photos/videoing for some of our friends who are getting married – on my birthday! and, maybe new orleans sometime in october. oh yeah.

financial district nyc

passionate

  • what i’ve done: i have made significant progress on getting things together to write my fika book – i have a basic manuscript, which needs lots of editing! but, i’m on my way. i relaunched my fika blog (the fika girl) and it feels so right. as far as it goes with my love and i, what can i say? i fall in love more and more every single day. she is amazing – and simply sharing everyday moments with her just takes my breath away.
  • what i want to do: publish that fika book! i will get at least an e-book out by the end of the year. i will! and i want to be well on my way with the print version. i also want to keep balancing my passion for my love and our crazy life always making sure that she knows that the is the most important thing in my life. she makes everything possible, and all of life more beautiful.

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so far in 2014, i have been creating an atmosphere, visioning and manifesting a life that is beautiful and calm and meaningful – one that i truly love. a life where i have learned to soak up the moments.

now, that i have created this sacred space in my everyday, ordinary life, it’s time to work. the inspiration is all there. the beauty and love and magic are all there. it’s time to put it all to use. in other words, it’s time to make shit happen.

here’s to celebrating the energy of the sun today, to the moments of closing our eyes and letting that energy fill us, so that it sustains us throughout the rest of the year – a year filled with love and happiness – a year that includes reaching for the stars and making dreams come true. a year of creating our paradise.

happy solstice! peace & love. xx

the magic of the winter solstice.

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happy winter, northern hemisphere family!

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“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”  ~ Edith Wharton

i woke up really early this morning. like about 5 am. of course, it was dark, and would stay dark for almost 3 more hours. i have been thinking of the winter solstice ever since december began… and i found it on my mind again this morning. and as i lay there, exhausted and cozy, i decided that i would spend the entire day today celebrating the  winter solstice with rituals and cozy moments.

i may sound a bit pagan to you right now, and if i do, then that’s fine, because there is nothing wrong with celebrating nature and the cycle of seasons, in my mind. in fact, given that i believe in a divine being, creative creator of all that is and was and will be, then nature is naturally (ha!) a part of the divine creation. religions, faith, spirituality, myths, and pagan traditions/rituals all seek to explain that divine being and our place in this world. seasons are a very concrete way, in my opinion, to demonstrate and embody the divine spark found in every living thing.

anyway, i lay in bed early this morning, wondering what little traditions and ways of celebrating the winter solstice i could create today. soon, i fell back asleep. but, i awoke again, still before the sun was up, and decided my first act would be to greet the day by watching the sun rise.

so, i made some chai tea, lit a candle, wrapped up in a blanket, and curled up in a chair on my balcony. it was chilly and very windy, but not uncomfortable. in fact, it was quite magical and mystical. all of my neighbros’ windows were dark. there were no people stirring or moving about. only a few cars passed on the road nearby. it was as if i was the only one awake. just me and nature.

IMG_6882as i sat there, the miracle that occurs every morning occurred. and i soaked in every magical, breathtaking moment. 

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today, the winter solstice, is the perfect day for slowing down and reflecting. the perfect day for celebrating the return of light back to the top half of the world. and this day is the reminder that the light, does indeed return, just as it does every year. it is the light that brings hope;  the same light that i also believe we find within each of us.

well, i spent about an hour and a half, alone, on my balcony. watching the sky brighten and turn colors, feeling the wind on my face, and hearing the chiming of wind chimes, as if they were announcing the arrival of light over the next few days.

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for me, celebrating the coming of light is literal and metaphorical. today and for the next six months, it is literal. the days begin to get brighter as the earth continues its rotation around the sun. light literally returns. and as these next few days pass, we also move ever closer to the celebration of christmas, the celebration of the light that comes to earth in a person. for me, this is the celebration of that light that is found in everyone of us… a light that makes us who we are, that connects us to each other, and calls us to live lives of peace, justice, and love. christian, jew, muslin, pagan, hindu, buddhist… whatever. that light, that divinity, is what makes us spiritual, amazing people.

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after the sun had risen and i came in, i decided to continue my celebration all day. so, i lit the christmas tree and the stars we have in our windows. i turned on a cozy playlist of christmas music, and settled down with my journal. on tap for the rest of my day, for the rest of my celebration, is a little of this and that: snuggling with the cat. reflecting on the past year and creating a photo journey of my 2013. meditating on my intentions and hopes for 2014. more christmas music. wine and glögg. and pj’s all day.

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celebrations of the winter solstice are thousands and thousands of years old. and people from all parts of the world have celebrated the fact that nature’s cycle continues. it is a beautiful remembrance that our lives are part of a larger order, always chaining and renewing.

so, if you have a chance, today or tomorrow, spend a few moments giving thanks for the light that brings hope. and take part in whatever little ritual, tradition, or moment you wish to slow down and mark the passing of this part of the cycle of life. this time of year, where, when all seems lost and that death & darkness have a firm grip on us, the sun returns. the light comes to us. all is not lost. life continues and hope abounds.

“The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come.  At the darkest moment comes the light.” ~ Joseph Campbell 

“I will love the light for it shows me the way.  Yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino
 

peace and light… to the world. xx

wednesday wisdom. 7 ways to be grateful.

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i came across an article in the huffington post about 7 things that thankful people do, of the 7 habits of grateful people. i thought it was really interesting and it really rang true to me, so i decided to share the tips/ideas with you on this thanksgiving eve.

there is something to be said for living a life with an attitude of gratitude. i believe that the biggest benefit of it is how being grateful not only puts things into perspective in our lives = makes us less whiney; but it also helps us live in the present moment. i believe that the attitude of gratitude and being thankful is the same as learning how to give positive energy off into the world. we’re all responsible to what we send “out there”, and what we do send out, will be most definitely what we receive back.

i’ve known people who are always negative, always in that “poor me” mode and always complaining about one thing or another, or everything. these attitudes suck me dry. and while i may care about the people, i need and want and choose to surround myself with positivity because i want that positive energy to rub off onto me so that i can then rub some of my positivity off on others.

it’s like a light, you know. tomorrow is also the beginning of hannukah, the jewish season celebrating light (which also happens within the christian church during this season = the “light” came into the world). actually, if you are aware of it, pagans also celebrate light this season, as light returns to the world through the cycle of nature once the winter solstice (the shortest & darkest day of the year) has passed in the northern hemisphere. so, light literally returns as the days get longer after december 21st.

but, it’s that light that i want to spread. whether you think of it as a divine and sacred spark inside all of us, or our connection with nature, that light, that energy, that positiveness is what i want to share with the world. not grumpiness, or gloominess, or darkness or negativity.

so, thanksgiving and hannukah are exactly what we need right now. we need a gratitude check – a chance to give thanks for all that is in our lives. and i am so not talking about the material stuff, though we can give thanks for that too, if we want. begin thankful is being aware. it is being alive in this moment, embracing it and all that goes along with it.

so, let’s see how we can bring more gratefulness back into our lives, and let’s see what kind of impact we can make when all we do is spread light and love and joy. and here are 7 ways we can begin to live in gratitude and spread a little light.

  1. journal: writing it all down reinforces all of our positive thoughts and helps us set goal and dream big dreams, thus leading to inner peace and contentedness.
  2. don’t avoid the negative: the key to leading a thankful life is embracing setbacks as part of our entire life journey.
  3. spend time with loved ones: community – family & friends are key in our lives. we are not alone, and we should not let others be alone.
  4. mindfully use social media: spread joy, not hate
  5. know the value of the little things: stop & smell the roses, take time, slow down.
  6. volunteer: there is nothing like helping others
  7. get moving: getting our blood pumping will give us way more energy, help us feel less stressed, and teach us to love life a little more (it’s those endorphins).

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“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence… O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

oh, how grateful i am for you. peace and love.