uppsala, stockholm, & a heatwave

stockholm

when the wedding was over last week, we went back into tourist-mode. and, boy did we do it full-speed ahead! after a couple of days of visiting friends in different places all over norrköping, we took a little road trip to uppsala and stockholm from wednesday to friday – and it was perfect timing to do a bunch of walking and touring of two cities in the middle of a crazy, record-breaking heat wave in sweden! the heat outside wouldn’t be so bad, cause i’m so used to it in north carolina; but here, in sweden, there is no air conditioning inside anywhere. so, there is no escaping the heat – and it is stifling. buuuuut, we didn’t let any of it stop us at all! nope.

we were in uppsala, staying at lina’s brother & fiancee’s place for until friday morning, and it was so unbelievably cozy. i’m pretty sure the highlight for me was the picnic and bbq we had in the city park one night – soaking in the long, late-evening sunshine, spending time with family, roasting marshmallows, and eating s’mores. everything was magical, beautiful, and perfect.

friday, we jumped on the train and rode the 35 minutes to sotckholm – in a super stuffy train – and began a long and super gorgeous day in the capital city made up of islands. of course, we didn’t see everything (paige has got to come back to see some other great parts of stockholm), but we saw a lot – old town (gamla stan) is always one of my favorites. the buildings and alleys just take my breath away. imagining all of the people who have walked the cobblestone street for hundreds and hundreds of year… ahhh. be still my heart. so amazing.

we stayed in stockholm until after dinner, so we caught a late train home – completely satisfied, exhausted, and inspired. what a great little road trip – with my amazing girls, paige and my love.

IMG_5319 stadsparken uppsala canal uppsala domkyrka uppsala DSC_0179 king gustav uppsala DSC_0186 roses and bikes books in window palaca gardens uppsala castle uppsala view DSC_0220 stortorget my love and me picnic uppsala bike beer grill picnic uppsala picnic uppsala canal uppsala the gay ring central station stockholm stockholm strandvägan stockholm stockholm östermalm stockholm djurgården stockholm gamla stan stockholm ferry stockholm ferry old town stockholm stockholm gamla stan gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm balcony stortorget gamla stan stockholm gamla stan stockholm stockholm kungsträgården stockholm stockholm stockholm stockholm

i just have to say, as i have before, that i am, once again, so very grateful for this life that i live. but, let me also say, that just because everything “seems” so great (though it is right now), it does not mean that i do not have times that are tough – we all do, and i have. but, all of the beauty and goodness and amazingness that surrounds me in my life, only reminds me every day to simply live in the moment – to be thankful for each day and to give thanks for all that is around me.

beauty, love, and even tough times – they all teach me the joy of being alive. and i work very hard to not take any day for granted. so this post, these photos, and these words that i have written – they are all in honor of living life – of grabbing on, letting go, and learning how we can live for today, giving thanks for every single second.

may your day be beautiful and filled with love & peace. xx

dreary. rainy. and full of purpose.

flowers

as i click my computer keys, the rain pounds on the pavement outside. it has been doing so for the past 24 hours. it’s cold and dark and dreary. as if spring has gone into hibernation today, just in time for this day of intentional pause.

as you may know, i have been celebrating lent in my own special way – successfully and unsuccessfully. i challenged myself to 40 days of being in a cathedral, but i have not been there every day. what i have committed to, and followed through with, is some time for mediation and prayers for others every day – and i have done that successfully. but, it’s been two weeks since i stepped through the doors of the cathedral downtown. my last day there was during a memorial service for a woman i had never met. (read about it here).

in any case, successful or not, i have learned a lot. and one thing is that, for me, my connection with the divine energy/force/love/god is not found only in a cathedral (which i already knew, but it has become profoundly more apparent to me throughout lent). the days that i was not in the cathedral, i was outside. or with others. or in a time of meditation  by my private altar at home. all that to say, i do not feel guilty for not accomplishing my challenge of 40 days in a cathedral. in fact, i feel more free in a sense. especially after this past week…

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on monday of this week, i started a 21 day meditation series. and, so far, so good. i have intentionally sat down on my amazing pillow (made from a woman’s wedding dress from india), lit candles, and begun a series of meditations on “finding purpose.” to be honest, it was a topic that i didn’t think i needed. but, i did need committed silent meditation time, so figured: “what the heck.” little did i know that this just may be exactly what i need right now.

i realized that i don’t have a specific goal right now, that i’ve been feeling disconnected from myself, ungrounded, undisciplined, and a little bit without direction. i’ve been thinking about money and jobs. and i’ve let my dreams go a little, chalking it up to practicality. i mean, last fall and winter, my life was crazy awesome with all of these amazing dreams coming true. i was making shit happen all over the place.

but, right now, even though there are plenty of beautiful, amazing moments, i’m tired. weary. unmotivated. and, somehow, without purpose it seems.

and then, i started meditating this week… noticing that everyday i was focusing on what i have already within me. security. love. power. happiness. creativity. wisdom. it’s all there. and i’ve known that all along, but i needed to truly meditate on it. experience it, instead of just say it. and, it was these meditations that revealed to me that i am not living in a calm, peaceful state of being right now. and here’s the key thing: that i’ve also been blocking, or holding back, my unique expression of life, of who i have been created to be at this time in this moment. i have failed to live the life that i dream about. 

now, i don’t now why or how this happened. perhaps (most likely) it has been a necessary bit of blah-ness, in order for me to move forward in my journey. all i know, is that this is not me. i am not the person who just sits and wonders what comes next. and i’m tired of being that way. i have a life to live, more dreams to chase. now, it’s time to discover what they are and make some shit happen again.

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today is the day before easter in the western christian church. it’s the last day of lent. to be honest, i just let good friday slide right on by yesterday – without taking part in any death/cross/jesus rituals that have been part of my life for as long as i can remember. and every now and then, for a few moments, i thought about that. but, then i realized that that is not who i am right now. another thing i’ve noticed throughout lent is this move from christianity to an exploration of all religions. now, christianity is and always will be my foundation to spirituality, but right now i need to embrace some other forms of spirituality along with christianity.

in any case, today, unlike yesterday, i have found myself drawn to the christian focus of the day – the day of waiting. of nothingness. jesus is in the tomb. dead. and others are weeping. and we all pause. they journey is on hold. lent is over. but it’s not quite the day of  the celebration of life.

so, this rain that’s falling here in asheville… it’s appropriate. and the fact that i am still in my pjs and in bed writing and reading, as i have been doing all day long… it’s appropriate too.

i soon realized that i was making this day a personal retreat day, which felt perfect. and wouldn’t you know it, i came across a little holy saturday reading this morning that touched me deeply. according to biblical scriptures, joseph of arimathea is the person who took the dead body of jesus to the tomb and laid it there. such a huge task, and this man is only given about 3 sentences in the whole bible. much like a few other biblical characters. he comes, does his thing, and leaves. never to be mentioned anywhere in scripture before, or again.

that got me thinking: just like this man, joseph, who had a specific task and purpose to fulfill in that moment, we do too. and this is exactly what i meditated on this week:

we are each created and living in a particular time, in a particular place, with a particular purpose – to express our unique selves through our true selves. to live an authentic life, expressing our specific passions and gifts and desires.

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and today is the perfect day to reflect on that i realized. in honor of joseph of arimathea who lived out his truth. and jesus, who was willing to die in order to stay true to himself. how am i doing in that department? have i been true to my self? and, if i haven’t could that be the root cause of my unsettledness?

perhaps my disconnected feelings have come from the fact that i have not been rooted in my true self. i talk about it, i write about it, but i haven’t been living it. however, there is no need to worry: meditation has reminded me that everything i need is already within me. the spirit of god dwells within. the universe, the light, the love, everything i could ever need is already with me. it’s just up to me to tap into it and to let it flow freely. because you and i, we are here today, in this specific time in history, to share our lives with one another and to live our lives to the fullest expression of who we are.

“be yourself. life is precious as it is. all the elements for your happiness are already here. there is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. just be.” – thich nhat hanh

yes, today, life is dormant. just like recently, my life has been dormant. but, perhaps, it’s actually just been sleeping; like the winter, simply waiting to give birth to something new.

we pause and wait a little while longer… new life is coming.

namaste.

sensory overload. part 15.

nighttime

oh friends, i think i am dying to take a trip. i’m pretty sure that my weird mood this past week (which seems to be hanging with me even through today) is partly due to the fact that i need a change of pace. my wanderlust is in overdrive right now. i’m restless and antsy and i do not feel grounded at all.

luckily and amazingly, i’ve got a trip to NYC planned in may. woo hoo!! so, that will take care of my wanderlust. we are actually going to meet lina’s brother & cousin in the big apple and spend 5 days, 4 nights in the city – eeek! we’ve rented an apartment in alphabet city/east village on airbnb – that has rooftop access! we’ve gotten tickets to see les miserables on broadway – i’m dying. and i’ve made note of lots of coffee shops i need to visit during my stay – that’s right. just like my 40 days of fika last fall, the fika girl (me), is taking fika to nyc and i’ll have a whole nyc fika section on my fika blog!

anyway. the trip takes care of part of my restlessness. the other part of my ungroundedness (i just made up that word) is going to be solved through a 21 day meditation challenge – which begins today. i need to get in touch with my soul. i need to relax and meditate. and while i try every single day to live in the power of the present moment, soaking up every little thing, if i am not meditating, then i am not as deeply connected as i can be. i am observant, but i am not living from deep within my soul. and i am missing a certain sense of calm and inner peace when i don’t make time for candles, breathing, and “om”‘s.

so, for the next 21 days, the mediation in on! 20 minutes every single morning. and i can’t wait. i need it so much.

of course, posting my sensory overload posts every monday morning is a very good practice of living with gratitude and presence. when i select my photos and go through them, i am aware of the beautiful moments that i have experienced throughout the past week – and i am reminded that, even if i feel unsettled and blah, that i have so much for which to be thankful. and usually, it is people and nature that seem to lifting my spirits and provide me with inspiration & peace.

so, here you go. the moments of beauty and peace from last week, in the midst of a weird, strange, disconnected, restless week. you know, we all have them. and it’s so good to look back and realize that things are not as bad as they feel. it’s so good to reflect and redirect my thoughts and attitudes – from grumpy irritation to calm, grateful peace.

meditate french press coffee balcony white tree spring IMG_1131 coffee work green sage green trees willow trees sunshine balcony sunrise moon sunset nighttime pink trees sunshine balcony wine bottle grilling out bbq

happy mid-april week, my friends! hope you have lots of fun plans in store for the week ahead!

sending you lots of love and peace. xx