vårkänslor. the feelings sweeping over sweden.

so, i know i’ve said this before some time, but the weather is sweden is extreme. when it’s good, it’s amazing. and when it’s bad, it’s awful and depressing. and the weather tends to hang around for a while = it doesn’t fluctuate much from day to day. when it snows, it dumps. when it is gray and chilly, it’s that way until you think you just can’t stand one more day. and when the sun shines, it does so for days. it warms your skin with its intense rays.

right now, we’re in a period of amazing, unbelievable, perfect weather. and we went straight from winter to summer. i must admit, all of this warm sunshine and deep blue skies has affected my mood. you know, we also have the super long daylight hours gong on now. anyway, my mood. it’s off the charts. i have so much energy. i feel so alive. i just wanna soak in every little bit of the amazingness that is around me. i’ve even been more social. and i never, ever want to be inside.

people

today, as i worked in my office, i had the old, creaky windows flung wide open. i could hear the hustle and bustle of city life below me: people laughing, children running, babies crying, bike bells dinging, feet shuffling.

i also had my spring playlist playing as i worked. and i realized that i made a freaking good playlist. hehe. it’s dreamy. organic. happy. sunny. calming. upbeat.

so, i thought i’d pay it forward. i’d love to share my playlist with you. i’d love to share with you the feelings of hope, beauty, peace, and excitement that flutter through me when i hear the music and listen to the lyrics. of course, it may not strike you at all. it may not be your cup of tea. on the other hand, it may inspire you, or some tune may stir something within you. anyway… think of this as me spreading some of the sunny cheer that we are experiencing here in sweden with all of you.

click on the album covers below to access the playlist on spotify. if you don’t have spotify, then leave a comment and i’ll get the list of songs/singers to you, if you’re interested. 

vårkänslor

speaking of sunny swedish cheer… there is a word in swedish that i love… vårkänslor. spring feelings.

or if you’d like a more detailed description: the feelings of extreme happiness, giddy expectation, dizzying euphoria, etc. one gets when it finally appears as though spring is coming. 

in other words: woo0 hooooo! yeeeee haawwww! (spoken like a true american. wink wink).

it is a madness that sweeps the nordic nation every year. and it’s happening now. after surviving the long, dark, seemingly never-ending nights, there are signs of life. literally. it may take mother nature until may to show us, but nature is beginning to wake up. the sun has risen high in the sky again. no more 2 hours of the sun barely peeking over the buildings. little purple flowers are popping up in the grass, which has turned green and is thickening up. and, again, the sun. have i mentioned the sun yet? that glorious bright circle in the sky, sending down hot, bright rays to warm our bare skin. the sunglasses come out. every face is turned upwards toward the sky… literally. every time i go somewhere, i cross the street multiple times just to make sure i am walking in the sun as much as possible. the cafes have built all of their outdoor seating spaces. people are everywhere. the ice cream kiosks have opened. parks are filled. even if the temperature is a little chilly and you need to wrap up in a fleece blanket as you sip your coffee outside, it doesn’t matter. as long as there is sun, there is hope. there is life. the time has arrived….vårkänslor!

in the states we refer to this as spring fever. and i’ve dealt with spring fever my whole life. it’s an intense desire for spring. like cabin fever is an intense desire to get out of the house. but, after living in sweden for three years now, and living through 3 winters, i understand that vårkänslor is a much deeper, even more intense, insane disorder that all of swedish society experiences. it is part of the swedish culture. and it is a beautiful thing.

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today, after i couldn’t stand be cooped up at work any longer, i packed up my stuff, did a few errands, and headed home on foot. i walked slowly. i breathed in the air. felt the breeze. i didn’t even have a jacket on today. it was not chilly at all. i strolled down queen street, smiling, and perhaps even whisteling to myself. seriously. when i reached a crossroads, i felt my vårkänslor inspire me to go by a friend’s restaurant to grab a late afternoon beer. my friend’s wife (another friend, of course) was there and i asked her to join me. it was a little before the restaurant opened, but since her husband (my friend) manages the restaurant, we were given to ok to park ourselves at a table out back, on their porch. in the sunshine. within minutes, two cold beers were delivered to us and we chatted it up for an hour or so. the perfect spontaneous spring afternoon.

river

later on at home, my love asked if i wanted to go & sit by the river. on  day like today, it was a must! so i slipped on my flip flops and we walked the one block to the river, sat down, and basked in the sun. chatting. sitting in silence. just being. what a fabulous way to end the day.

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yep. vårkänslor. i love them.

peace.

may’s photo journey: who am i?

it’s the last day of april and spring has sprung in the northern hemisphere. fall is on the way for those of you south of the equator. and it’s time to embark on what i consider one of the most beautiful months of the year. in my world, it warms up. the flowers burst. the sun shines. and everyone is buzzing around, busy and feeling alive again. we’re all like butterflies flitting about, excited to have a little more energy again.

now, whether it’s spring or fall, we can all use a little more energy and inspiration and kick to help us follow our dreams. i’m a big dreamer, you know. but, how do we know what are dreams are, what goals we have, or what to put on our bucket lists, if we don’t know who we are? and i mean all sides of us!

a few months ago, i stumbled upon a website that “analyzes” your blog/website and then gives you a diagnosis… what type of personality you have. i think it’s fun to think about these kinds of things, but they are also useful for all the reasons i stated above (= following your dreams!). so, for the month of may, i challenge you to join me in a journey of self-discovery. what is your heart like? your soul, your mind, your body? who are you from the inside out? and who do you want to be?

i’m a big believer in being. who we are defines what we do, and not the other way around. it’s not about what we do that tells others who i am, but who we are. i am more than a writer, a theologian, a wife, a sister, a daughter, an american, an ex-pat. i am all of those things, but i am so much more that that as well. it goes deeper than my roles and titles. and once i have a firm grasp on who i am today (and i mean only today because we are ever-changing and transforming), then what i do will naturally flow out of me.

so, i want to explore myself a little more in may. perhaps this desire to embark on a journey of self-discovery is a result of the changes that are coming to my life in about 2 months. i am moving form sweden to the states, and once again, the possibilities seem endless. another chance to follow my dreams and start over is upon me once again.

the other thing that is important to me is the idea of living an authentic life… of being exactly who you are. because all of us are unique, beautiful, and wonderful… exactly as we are.

now, i invite you, my dear friends, to spend the beautiful month of may with me exploring who you are, through the art of photography and reflection!

may photo a day 2013

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 being you.

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 something you can use to reflect on who you are.

now, this list may look challenging. i think it is. i’m a little freaked out by it. plus, let’s not mention how personal and intimate this photo journey is. 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 either your heart, your soul, your mind, or your body (not to worry! no body pictures are required!) 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.

happy snapping!! enjoy your journey of self-discovery!

peace

celebrating life… the nordic spring way.

there are only two more days in april (craaaaazy!), and i’m working on a photo journey for may as i write this. yep. i am multi-tasking. i don’t think i’ll finish may’s challenge tonight, so you’ll have to wait until tuesday for the big reveal! anyway, as we come to a close on our month of celebrating life, here’s a peek at what i’ve been celebrating this past week…

22. mother nature

mother nature

23. soil

soil

24. jump

jump

25. play

play

26. twirl

twirl

27. walk

walk

28. heartbeat

heartbeat

how have you celebrated life? have you had any moments that reminded you how amazing life can be?!

a few bonus photos. yay!

cappachino birdie tulips blt tree wine spring concert

spring is finally, s l o o o o w l y making it’s appearance here in sweden and all swedes are getting a little spring crazy now. no matter where you go, people are talking about the weather. if the sun is shining, then it’s a spring day, nevermind that the temperature is just above freezing or the wind is blowing like crazy. nope. it’s all about the sun, which is already warming up a bunch. though the air is still chilly.

and the daylight!!! oh, the beautiful daylight! it is not completely dark until 9:30 now, and we’ve got so much more daylight coming to us. yay!!

this coming week is a big one for us up here in the nordic country. it’s time to celebrate the coming of spring with bonfires, spring songs, sunshine, picnics, grilling, and bonfires. my love & i may be heading to uppsala to visit lina’s brother for a huge traditional, whole city, crazy celebration. but, no matter where i am, it will not go unnoticed that april 30th is the super crazy celebration of the coming of spring! it is the official welcome of the season! and then, we all have the next day (may 1st) off to recover from the celebration. yep. that’s how we roll up here.

here’s to wishing you a great end of april and beginning of may. i hope the sun shines some wherever you are! peace.

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.

the last day of april & a challenge for may.

FINALLY!!! the weather has taken a turn for the better & there is an abundance of sunshine and semi-warm weather (= i still have to wear a jacket). my windows are open, my sunglasses are stashed in my bag, the blanket is out & ready to be used in the park tomorrow, and the sun is beating down from a brilliant blue sky. spring has actually arrived! and it’s right on time.

today & tomorrow are a kind of spring holiday in sweden… called valborg. it’s a coming of spring celebration with grilling out and hanging with people. tonight swedes sing in the spring with big bonfires. super fun! it’ll be my second valborg, so i know the drill this year, which feels good. the only crappy thing is that lina & i are both working = not celebrating in the same place or in the same way. oh well. we gotta try to enjoy the celebrations where we are. me with the church group out in the country; and lina in the city, working with the youth. no matter what, we can’t help but enjoy this weather!

 today’s blue sky & bright sunshine.

so, out with the old winter, and in with the new spring. woo hoo! which reminds me… here come the last 2 pics from the photo a day april challenge. love my instagram challenges.

day 29: circle. i love my funky, retro kitchen radio with all its circular knobs.

day 30: something that makes me sad. the continuing struggle for all people to be accepted & ordained in the UMC.

and now… presenting the photo a day MAY challenge!!! you know you wanna join in. it’s so much fun to be challenged to see something creative in every day. it’s kinda like a little gratitude, stop-&-smell-the-roses kind of daily discipline. it’s really good for the soul, i think.

wondering how to do it? well, it’s easy.

  • just read the challenge for the day and interpret it however you like.
  • snap a photo with your phone or camera
  • then post your pic wherever you want. on instagram (using your phone), on twitter, on Facebook, on your blog. on pinterest. or all of those places!

i have gotten into a little groove of posting everyday on instagram & pinterest, and once a week here on the blog. i may change it up this month & post a pic daily on the blog & then use that picture as inspiration for writing. i can’t decide, but you’ll find out tomorrow! for now, here’s the may challenge!

this month is gonna be fun. especially since i’ll be in paris for a few of the days!

happy snapping! peace.

week 3: photo a day. april.

week three. done! and i’m still lovin’ this challenge. gives me something to look forward to each day – something creative & fun to add to my day. this week has been crazy busy, but i still managed to snap a shot every day. go me. i haven’t peeked at the challenges for next week, but i’m sure it’ll be fun. as always. for now, here comes week 3!

day 15: sunset –  oh the pressure of waiting all day to see if there is a beautiful sunset or just thick, gray clouds. here’s what happened outside my window about 8:30 pm.

day 16: flower – this flower is planted in the little back garden of our apartment building. i went with black & white. not sure why. i was just feeling it. love the little dew drops.

day 17: something i don’t like – on this day i didn’t like the fact that my train from stockholm didn’t arrive back home until 11:33 pm. looong day. but, a good one. if you haven’t already, check out my adventure here.

day 18: hair –  a little peek at my curly hair.

day 19: orange – a while back, lina decided to arrange out books by color. i love it! it’s like a whole wall of art, and a little treasure hunt when i want to find a book. hehe.

day 20: something i drew – ok. i’m not an artist. i don’t doodle. and i knew i would not draw one thing during the day, so i cheated a tiny bit & chose a previous picture, but worked with it a little. i actually didn’t draw the tattoo, but i had it drawn on me. that counts, right?

day 21: bottle – i wanted to take a picture of the wine bottle i was drinking from tonight, but i am not drinking from one. in fact, i don’t even have one anywhere in the house. but we do have these cozy bottles we use as candleholders.

i can’t believe it’s almost time to begin the may challenge! only one week of april left! if you haven’t joined in this month, you’ll get a chance soon. just check back here on the last day of april & i’ll have the may challenge for you. happy saturday night!

peace out.