autumn: the season filled with the most important things

it’s finally here. yippee!

the cozy season of autumn is upon us. it’s the season of turning inward. of coming inside. of harvesting + giving thanks for what has been. of planting seeds (literally and figuratively) that will burst forth next spring. and all the while, though the darkness grows more and more until the winter solstice, and it feels if all the nature is sleeping, there is much that is happening, though we cannot see it. it is the time of the year to dig down + deep. and to let our souls rest, plan, and feel inspired. working towards that next phase in our lives, whatever it may be.

sunset autumn trees

and today, on this day, we have a moment of perfect balance to inspire our reflections and deams. the amount of light + dark is spread out completely evenly throughout the day. what a magical day to think about the balance in our lives. to observe how we are living. to become aware. to see where we have been + what we have done, and to look forward to what we want to manifest and make happen in our lives.

of course, the opposite is happening in the southern hemisphere, the light is returning and life is beginning to burst forth. nevertheless, the balance is evident and present in the south as well.

it’s just such a perfectly sacred time of the year for everyone to pause for just a moment.

mountains autumn

to celebrate the onset of this favorite time of year of mine, i thought i’d do a little autumn-inspired q + a. my love shared her thoughts about the season on her blog the other day, so i decided i’d steal the idea from her and do a little sharing of my own.

What do you imagine when you think of fall?

i imagine leaves lining the streets + sidewalks: red, gold, orange, brown. crisp blue skies. bright sunshine. the mountains filled with colors. a cozy feeling. the chance to go indoors + inward – perfect for a contemplative like myself.

maxwell street autumn zola coffee blankets

asheville downtown autumn

What’s the worst with fall?

right now the worst with fall is that i am not in north carolina. i know i am supposed to be in the present moment, but that’s just how it is. plus, it is considerably darker and rainier in sweden than in north carolina. so much so that people usually leave town for a week or so, if they’ve saved up any vacation time. i miss my beloved mountains. and while my love + i are determined to create the traditions + moments that we miss, it’s not the same. i miss my family + friends. pity party over now.

the bywater

And what’s the best with fall?

the traditions! the holidays! including my birthday! and halloween, and all saint’s day cemeteries in sweden, and thanksgiving, and the beginning of christmas decorating. there is so much to celebrate! (and see above answer to understand the bittersweet part of all of this).

me lina birthday autumn

carving pumpkins

Your fall outfit?

here are some of my staples: jeans. t-shirt + sweater. boots. scarves. finger gloves. colored tights. black skirt.

pumpkin beer

What do you have on your to do-list?

celebrate all of those awesome holidays. light candles like crazy. drink chai latte. binge on netflix. gather leaves + berries. celebrate turning 41. take walks. start my life coach class. carve a pumpkin. choose a kick ass costume for halloween. host a halloween party. host thanksgiving. read books. take photos. makes videos. have a home retreat. find some pumpkin beer in sweden! (there has to be some somewhere). make soups (and chili). hang more cozy twinkle lights.

vegetables autumn me halloween dark wig river autumn asheville

How to you treat fall “depression”?

see the above answer. hehe.

Best music for rainy days?

i’m a playlist kind of girl, and i’ve been creating one every single month for the past year. here are the ones that i have published already. but, be sure to follow me on spotify + then you will see october + novermber’s playlists when they come out this year.

september 2014

september 2015

october 2014

november 2014

What TV-series are the best to watch?

this is easy! the walking dead. grey’s anatomy. game of thrones (we are just starting that one!).

Your most fall-ish meal?

i’m gonna have to say our thanksgiving meal. it’s just such a classic american thing that has been a part of my life forever. and one of my favorite meals of all! if you’re not american, then you may not quite get this, but… i mean: turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows. green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, corn pudding, cranberry sauce (which i hate, but i still have to have it on my thanksgiving table), bread, stuffing. good lord, my tummy is grumbling. only 2 months left!


the other dish that i love to prepare is homemade chili. i probably make it different every single time, but that’s ok. the best is to have it on a chilly, rainy day. and after it’s been sitting and cooking for hours. serve it with lots of cheese + nacho chips for dipping. or homemade french fries (for dipping as well. is hat weird?).

Any trips planned?

we actually have no trips planned until possibly next spring. at least we don’t think we will go anywhere this fall… but you never know! and while my wanderlust is out of control and i would hop on a plane to anywhere right now, i know that it’s not possible right this very minute. and it really is ok. i’ve got plenty to keep me busy with work, lina’s health, traditions, holidays, and just soaking up autumn in uppsala- i am sure it will be beautiful, and that some of my homesickness will be abated.

mountain road autumn

but, do we ever have trips on the brain! paris in the spring (my cousin just moved there!). berlin sometime next year to visit our f reminds’ new apartment + another american friend who just moved there. dublin to visit our dear friends + their new little dumpling. and THE STATES next summer. good thing we live in europe and get lots of vacation time + can go to 3 of 4 of those places for just a long weekend.

dream trips for as soon as it is possible (after these other trips are taken care of): india. bali. tokyo.

How do you prepare for winter?

stock up on candles! buy + forage decorations for all of the holidays. make christmas lists. peruse pinterest. plan blog posts. begin to plan goals and a word for the coming year. bring out blankets. buy some mulled wine. work on a photography book for 2015. hang even more cozy twinkle lights.

photo album christmas lights

as i’ve been preparing this post, i have had a revelation. i now know exactly why autumn is the best time of year for me. it is the season that highlights  all of the most important things to me:

nature, family, traditions, holidays, balance, darkness, light, home, coziness/contemplative times.

now i get it. this is the season that includes all of those things that touch my soul the most. and no matter where i am, i can carry that feeling with me. i can create three months of autumn coziness exactly as i want them. there is no person or place stopping me. it may not be the same, but it will only be added memories + traditions + moments to my life, making it that much richer.

it is a magical time of the year where anything can happen. the changes inspire us to expand and reset.

so, as the days grow ever shorter, as darkness creeps over the land and fills the sky once again, i know that in my soul autumn teaches me what is most important in life. autumn brings with it the chance to slow down just enough to be grateful for all that is a part of life, and to begin to plant those seeds within my soul that will be the next part of my life.

for now, though, as they are harvested and planted anew, it is just time to wait. and be. and go with the flow. the cycle of life is doing exactly what she should. mother nature is teaching us, once again, as the leaves drift down to the ground that another season is over…. but in its place, in due time, a new season will begin. for now, we simply enjoy the colors and the traditions and the joys that are around us.

happy fall, y’all! go ahead + copy this list for your blog. i’d love to read what you love about autumn (or spring!)
onwards + upwards! xo

all photos are from asheville, north carolina. autumn 2014.

31 questions + answers

since i posted the other day that we are supposed to focus on ourselves, that life is all about me (and your life is all about you), i thought i’d keep the same self-centered theme going today. wink wink.

i’m also thinking that since it’s the weekend, i should have a little fun with this blog post today.

so, i’ve copied a list of 31 questions from lina’s blog, who copied it from another blog, and so on. it’s nothing heavy. just light + breezy + silly. a chance to let you get to know me a bit more. think of it as a random interview about random little things.

and should you be interested + have a blog of your own + would like to spend a few minutes making it all about you, feel free to copy the questions and do your own little fun post for the weekend. i’d love to read about you! here we go!


1. Where’s your cellphone? It’s stuffed under the pillow beside me on the sofa. It often is beside me, then somehow magically slides away + under the pillow. But, all of my notifications are turned off + it’s on silent, so I often forget it’s there. I’m in the midst of a self-imposed challenge of learning to step back/away from having my phone available constantly.

2. Where’s your second half? She’s sitting beside me on the sofa. We’re both geeking out on blogging stuff. It’s Saturday morning + we’re doing what we love.

3. Your hair? Down, messy, flat, slept on.

4. Your mood? My overall mood is relaxed + and peaceful. I mean, it’s Saturday! I feel so grateful + blessed by so much. I feel so strong + secure in myself right now. So empowered.  I do have a lot on my mind, knowing that things are changing in our life right now, speeding up. But in good ways, I believe. Still, things are going to be different. Life is changing, moving on. Exciting + scary + meant to be.

5. Your plan for today? I have no plans at all for today + tomorrow. We’ve discussed going down to the basement + making the summer/autumn clothing switch. We’ve also discussed making our next vlog. It’s been way too long. But, nothing at all is planned. And that feels amazing!


6. What’s the best you know? The best I know… this is so hard. There are many things that take my breath away. Standing on the top of a mountain in NC. Riding the waves in a boat in the open sea. Holiday dinners. Christmas morning. Drinking a beer at a local pub. Walking the streets of a new city, snapping photos everywhere. Reynolds beach week. Trees. Snow days. Driving with the windows down. Sunday mornings in bed with coffee, computers, + my love. Balconies. Cathedrals. Camping. Mexican food. I could go on…

7. Your dream last night? I can’t remember one thing. I woke up late (8 am is late for me) and felt completely rested. Soooooo nice.

8. Your goal in life? To inspire others through images + words. To travel the world, meet people, teach people, and create peace. To live in both Sweden and the States equally. To share it all with my Lina.

9. The room you’re in? I’m comfy on the sofa in our living room in Uppsala, Sweden. I just looooove our sofa. The warm morning sun is streaming in, so much so that my love just pulled the blinds down + cracked the window.



10. Your hobby? Is photography my hobby or my work? It used to be my hobby, but I am making a transition. So, for now, brewing beer/tasting beer and all things coffee. These are my current hobbies. Mmmm!

11. Your fear? Not living life to the fullest. Settling. Not being authentic.


12. Where would you like to be in six years? Literally, six year from today it’ll September 2021 and I’ll be 46. I’d love to be in NC. I’d love to be tucked away in our own little tiny house cabin in the woods until Thanksgiving. Writing, photographing, coaching, working online, visiting friends + family, planning our next trip, which of course would be my next assignment for my next book.

13. Where were you yesterday evening? Home on the couch the whole evening, finishing up a Back to the Future marathon. Hehe.

14. What are you not? I am not a sporty girl.

15. Something you wish? I wish that we could be in Asheville this autumn.

asheville-north-carolina-downtown atlantic beach northcarolina

16. Where did you grow up? North Carolina, USA

17. What was the last thing you did? Woke up, washed the dishes, and brewed a pot of coffee.

18. Your clothes? A blue t-shirt from an old college job (I was a summer camp counselor) and cozy pants = pjs.

19. Your TV? We bought the tv we have from the chick who’s apartment we are renting. It was already on the wall, so that made it easy. But, it’s not very big. Ok for now. However, we are movie/series lovers, so one day we will get a big ass tv.


20. Your pet? Sweet little social Zola who loves to sleep in the sun, on a pillow, or under tents that we build for her.

21. Your computer? Macbook Air. And I love it. Though the new MacBooks look amazing. Just sayin’.

22. The best thing you own? My iPhone, camera, moleskin journals, and computer.

birthday friends


23. Do you miss anyone? Do I ever?! I miss my family in the States like crazy. I miss American friends + soul mates from all over the world that I don’t see that often.

24. Your car? We have no car now. It’s nice to walk + cycle everywhere. And I totally love taking trains. But, I’m a heavy-footed, car lovin’ girl. Driving is so much fun to me. Always has been. And it symbolizes a sense of freedom that I miss when I don’t have a car. I’m so gonna have a Jeep Wrangler again one day. Yep.

25. Something you’re not wearing? Makeup

26. Favorite store? Weekday (a Swedish clothing store). Target. Greenlife. Vintage/hippie stores. Any independent little funky place. I try not to be a huge fan of chains, but I’m not perfect.

airbnb-windowsill-coffee sigtuna-me-view soder-me-and-my-love lina me beer

27. Your summer? We stayed in Sweden all summer, but we still acted like tourists. We had 3 visitors at different times, including my brother, so we showed them all the best of Uppsala, Norrköping, and Stockholm. But, when we were on our own, during our vacation weeks, Lina and I did our own adventuring, with a week in the archipelago, a few day trips, and a few Airbnb weekends in Stockholm. Plus an amazing Pride parade experience and just enjoying Uppsala. It was a fantastic summer.

28. Do you love anyone? My amazing wife, Lina. (see the photos above. hehe.)

unsplash sunset west

photo from unsplash

29. Favorite color? Oooo… it changes with the day. I once drove about 12 teenagers out to Wyoming to an Indian reservation to do volunteer work for a week. One night, as we drove back from a local pow wow (Indian ceremony), the sunset over the plains and mountains was incredible. I pointed it out to all of my kids, telling them to just take a moment and soak in the beauty of the wild, open west. One of the kids said,”That is my favorite color today.”” What color?”, I asked. And he pointed outside to the reds, oranges, pinks, purples, blues, and yellows. He pointed to the sunset. To everything that we could see stretched out before us. I have never thought about my favorite color in the same way… everyday since that evening in Wyoming about 10 years ago, I now discover my favorite color of the day. Every day. Though I always love green.

30. When did you laugh last? Yesterday.

31. When did you cry last? Tuesday during my meditation training class. No idea why. Just got emotional.

ok. ok. copy + paste this to your blog. share some of who you are with me! happy weekend, lovelies!

liz xoxo


the people of 2014

people-2014i shared so many beautiful moments with so many beautiful people in 2014. i couldn’t just let the turning of the new year slip by without recognizing the fact that it is the people in my life that make my life what it is. i would be nothing if i were all alone. and i am so very thankful for the people that surround me and make me giggle, and think, and teach me what life is all about.

however, by no means is this an exhaustive collection of people. there are many that i know of that i have not included in this collage. but, at some point, for the sake on moving on in life instead of sitting by the computer for a week straight, i had to stop sorting through every single photo of 2014 and complete this post. hehe.

many of you, who are not pictured here, are people who i may have never met face to face. many of you blog readers + instagram followers. many of you are people i care deeply about, but i haven’t spent much time with you in 2014 (different countries and all that).  please know that you all have a special place in my heart as well.

this post, as a whole, sums up just how blessed i am to have so many wonderful people in my life. positive people. challenging people. people who inspire and push and irritate and constantly are there for me. i cherish each and every moment, the good + the bad, and i am completely + fully aware of the joy that you each bring to my life in your own special way.

so, thank you, for an incredible year! from the bottom of my heart, i wish you all peace, light, empowerment + love.

love, liz


norrköping moments

well, my friends, my month long visit to sweden has now come to an end. it’s so hard to believe. it seems as if time has flown by, and yet, it seems like forever ago i was in asheville. the past 4 weeks have been incredible. however, the two words that keep sticking out in my mind are beautiful and magical.

it has been the perfect swedish summer – never have i experienced a summer like this: sunny, hot, blue skies. the whole freaking time. so, the weather has been beautiful, but more than that, the moments and the people and the sights have been beautiful. and all of that combined with the swedish way of life – a way of life that is a bit slower, a bit more intentional, and a bit more communal – has made all of the beauty also magical. i feel a bit like i’ve had moment after moment of traditional, old-timey, the way things should be, swedish life. a very classic svensk sommar (swedish summer) – with strawberries, sunshine, eating outdoors, lake swims, picnics, walks around town, and gatherings with friends and family.

so, as i am flying back to the states today, i wanted to share with you some moments from norrköping – the city in sweden that i call home, since i lived here for three years. norrköping was our base through the 4 weeks we were here, so we had lots of days of just being, exploring, and meeting friends.

and, though i say goodbye to the city and my family/friends who are live here, i will cherish all of the memories and moments that i have shared with my love, with paige, and with all of the beautiful swedish (and dutch!) people in my life.

it has been an amazing summer. an unbelievable journey. and moment after moment that has taken my breath away.

IMG_4460 IMG_4471 DSC_0006 IMG_6858 DSC_0029 DSC_0032 DSC_0044 IMG_7261 IMG_4922 DSC_0469 DSC_0482 IMG_7345 DSC_0496 DSC_0512 IMG_4963 IMG_5062 IMG_5074 IMG_5284 IMG_5286 IMG_5288 IMG_5536 IMG_5540 IMG_5541 IMG_5579


happy tuesday, dear ones. the next post, from the states, will be my 1000th post! stay tuned – it’ll be a great big celebration!

peace & love. xx

**all photos that have me in it (except for the last one) are taken by paige.

a video of our road trip: starring paige, lina, me & first aid kit!

there are perks to being married to a graphic design student. and one of the new ones is homemade videos. that’s right, my love has gotten into the groove of making videos  – and she is goooood. so, during our road trip to see first aid kit in concert this past weekend, she did a whole bunch of filming using her iPhone throughout our entire trip. and then she spent last night & this morning creating, editing, and finalizing an amazing and fun video of our trip! what a great way to preserve memories and laugh at how silly we are. i’m so excited and can’t wait to see what other videos she creates after this crazy, amazing, event-filled summer.

but, for now, check out this awesome 6 minute video of our weekend road trip!

peace and love. xx

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


making me all weepy.

think of this post as a little celebration on a completely random day.

one year ago today, i wrote an important post (click here to read it). it may not have been important to anyone but me. but, nevermind that. it was one of those serendipitous days that occurs every so often when you just know that everything is right. when your soul is not whispering to you, but shouting with joy and you feel as if you might burst. a day when everything makes sense and life seems exactly as it should.

it was a very powerful day for me. a day where i realized that i was ready. ready to really chase my dreams. ready to accept and understand and move forward. ready to admit that i would never go back – i could never go back – to simply living my old, “regular” life, but i knew that it was time to embrace the calling and the feeling that i was meant to write. no matter what.

and while it made sense to me, how any of that would be possible, i had no idea. i knew that i was going to do it. i had no idea how, but i believed. lina and i were already committed to moving to asheville so that lina could follow her dreams, but this time last year, i embraced that this move meant that i would also be following my dream as well.

it was as if i gave myself permission to just jump. to take a leap of faith and risk it. and that’s what last year’s post was all about.

this week, Facebook turned 10 and they created little videos for users based on their photos and updates – things they had posted on Facebook since they first began using it. i joined Facebook in 2007, just a few weeks after meeting lina. and i actually joined so that lina and i could keep in touch. so, our entire relationship was based on a friendship started in sweden and developed through Facebook messages and webcam chats.


when i clicked on my little one-minute video to see what Facebook had created for me, i was brought to tears by the photos and words that appeared before my eyes. it was a collection of beautiful moments from the very beginning of our relationship to now, in addition to some great highlights of my family and other amazing memories. i was so touched by my little video, and it brought to mind this incredible journey that i have been on throughout the past year. well, actually the past seven years…

so, i just had to share it with you. i wanted to share it as a way of honoring my life and reminding me of how overwhelmingly grateful i am. i wanted to share it with you to “prove” to you that you can make your dreams come true, that it is possible to live the life that you dream of and to find your passion. and i wanted to encourage you to never give up.

i hope that you, too, can look back over your life, whether it be 10 years or 10 days, and find things to celebrate as well. but, more than anything, i wish for you to feel hope and excitement and peace as you look forward.

click below to watch the video:

 peace & love. xx

a road trip down memory lane

aren’t there days that you are feeling nostalgic and just want to wander down memory lane? i have those days every now and then, and they are a perfect excuse to take a little road trip. you know, a road trip filled with driving down old, familiar roads; but with fresh, new eyes.

well, saturday morning my love and i woke up and asked each other what we wanted to do. it was clear that we both had a little action/adventure on our minds. so, we decided to get in the car and head to the next county over, haywood county, where i used to live before i moved to sweden.

after a quick little trip to a shoe store (and yes, i bought a pair of shoes. score me.), we took the back roads from asheville to canton. the little town of canton is the small, mountain town that i lived and worked in for 8 years. on the way there, it felt so great to drive on curvy, two lane roads. simple. adventurous. and, like i said before, a bit nostalgic.

driving through the sad, never-changing, cozy downtown of canton, i felt as if i had entered a time warp of some sort. i tried to explain to lina that it felt completely familiar, like no time had passed at all, and like it was completely a different life all at the same time. it’s almost like some out-of-body experience. like the memories that flooded my brain were things that happened to someone else. it was so surreal.

but i drove the roads of canton and just let the simplicity of that life come back to my consciousness. it was a crazy time in my life – a tough time that ended in my divorce from my first husband. but, it was also a good time in my life. my last year there before moving, i began to understand little by little what soaking up life is all about. but, that was just the tip of the iceberg. however, there is not one part of me that wishes to go back. not at all.


johnson drive, canton, nc

after the little tour of my old town, we headed out into the countryside. oh, it was so beautiful. there is nothing like driving on mountain roads. i always feel free. and connected. and there’s something raw about north carolina country roads. the people and the houses that dot the roads are good people, hard-working people. life in the rural mountains of north carolina is harder, and yet, simpler. driving on these roads somehow reminds me of what’s really important in life.

well, we drove on. and on. and on. and we finally ended up in waynesville, where we visited a few local shops and then enjoyed dinner at a local pub. come sunset, we decided we’d head home.

highway 110 bethel haywood county mountains sunset sunset being in nature. being with my love. remember ing where i’ve come from, who i was, who i am, and who i want to be is most definitely a great way to spend a saturday. you never know where road trips might lead you… and that’s the beauty of getting on the road and just going.

hope your weekend was filled with beautiful moments which gave you the chance to just be.

peace & love. xx

* important! i give credit to my love ( for all of the photos. she took the pictures. i drove. hehe.


Christmas to Me.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book of all time, so, back in September, when I ran across this essay that she had written, I knew that I would use her words as my Christmas greeting to all of you this year.

My dear blogging friends and family, thank you for reading and for supporting me throughout this incredible year – a year where I saw writing dreams of my own come true. Thank you for following along and for journeying with me. Merry Christmas to you all! 

Christmas to Me: an essay by Harper Lee 

Several years ago, I was living in New York and working for an airline, so I never got home to Alabama for Christmas—if, indeed, I got the day off. To a displaced Southerner, Christmas in New York can be rather a melancholy occasion, not because the scene is strange to one far from home, but because it is familiar: New York shoppers evince the same singleness of purpose as slow moving Southerners; Salvation Army bands and Christmas carols are alike the world over: at that time of year, New York streets shine wet with the same gentle farmer’s rain that soaks Alabama’s winter fields.

I missed Christmas away from home, I thought. What I really missed was a memory, an old memory of people long since gone, of my grandparents’ house bursting with cousins, smilax, and holly. I missed the sound of hunting boots, the sudden open-door gusts of chilly air that cut through the aroma of pine needles and oyster dressing. I missed my brother’s night-before-Christmas mask of rectitude and my father’s bumblebee bass humming “Joy to the World.”

In New York, I usually spent the day, or what was left of it, with my closest friends in Manhattan. They were a young family in periodically well-to-do circumstances. Periodically, because the head of the household employed the precarious craft of writing for their living. He was brilliant and lively; his one defect of character was an inordinate love of puns. He possessed a trait curious not only in a writer but in a young man with dependents; there was about him a quality of fearless optimism—not of the wishing-makes-it-so variety, but that of seeing an attainable goal and daring to take risks in its pursuit. His audacity sometimes left his friends breathless—who in his circumstances would venture to buy a townhouse in Manhattan? His shrewd generalship made the undertaking successful: while most young people are content to dream of such things, he made his dream a reality for his family and satisfied his tribal longing for his own ground beneath his feet. He had come to New York from the Southwest and, in a manner characteristic of all natives thereof, had found the most beautiful girl in the east and married her.

To this ethereal, utterly feminine creature were born two strapping sons, who, as they grew, discovered that their fragile mother packed a wallop that was second to nobody’s. Her capacity to love was enormous, and she spent hours in her kitchen, producing dark, viscous delights for her family and friends.

They were a handsome pair, healthy in mind and body, happy in their extremely active lives. Common interests as well as love drew me to them: and endless flow of reading material circulated amongst us; we took pleasure in the same theatre, films, music: we laughed at the same things, and we laughed so much in those days.

Our Christmases together were simple. We limited our gifts to pennies and wits and all-out competition. Who would come up with the most outrageous for the least? The real Christmas was for the children, an idea I found totally compatible, for I had long ago ceased to speculate on the meaning of Christmas as anything other than a day for children. Christmas to me was only a memory of old loves and empty rooms, something I buried with the past that underwent a vague, aching resurrection every year.

One Christmas, though, was different. I was lucky. I had the whole day off, and I spent Christmas Eve with them. When morning came, I awoke to a small hand kneading my face. “Dup,” was all its owner had time to say. I got downstairs just in time to see the little boys’ faces as they beheld the pocket rockets and space equipment Santa Claus had left them. At first, their fingers went almost timidly over their toys. When their inspection had been completed, the two boys dragged everything into the center of the living room.

Bedlam prevailed until they discovered there was more. As their father began distributing gifts, I grinned to myself, wondering how my exceptionally wily unearthments this year would be received. His was a print of a portrait of Sydney Smith I’d found for thirty-five cents; hers was the complete works of Margot Asquith, the result of a year’s patient search. The children were in agonies of indecision over which package to open next, and as I waited, I noticed that while a small stack of present mounted beside their mother’s chair, I had received not a single one. My disappointment was growing steadily, but I tried not to show it.

They took their time. Finally she said, “We haven’t forgotten you. Look on the tree.”

There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me. I opened it and read: “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

“What does this mean?” I asked.

“What it says,” I was told.

They assured me that it was not some sort of joke. They’d had a good year, they said. They’d saved some money and thought it was high time they did something about me.

“What do you mean, do something about me?”

To tell the truth—if I really wanted to know—they thought I had a great talent, and—

“What makes you think that?”

It was plain to anyone who knew me, they said, if anyone would stop to look. They wanted to show their faith in me the best way they knew how. Whether I ever sold a line was immaterial. They wanted to give me a full, fair chance to learn my craft, free from the harassments of a regular job. Would I accept their gift? There were no strings at all. Please accept, with their love.

It took some time to find my voice. When I did, I asked if they were out of their minds. What made them think anything would come of this? They didn’t have that kind of money to throw away. A year was a long time. What if the children came down with something horrible? As objection crowded upon objection, each was overruled. “We’re all young,” they said. “We can cope with whatever happens. If disaster strikes, you can always find a job of some kind. Okay, consider it a loan, then, if you wish. We just want you to accept. Just permit us to believe in you. You must.”

“It’s a fantastic gamble,” I murmured. “It’s such a great risk.”

My friend looked around his living room, at his boys, half buried under a pile of bright Christmas wrapping paper. His eyes sparkled as they met his wife’s, and they exchanged a glance of what seemed to me insufferable smugness. Then he looked at me and said softly; “No, honey. It’s not a risk. It’s a sure thing.”

Outside, snow was falling, an odd event for a New York Christmas. I went to the window, stunned by the day’s miracle. Christmas trees blurred softly across the street, and firelight made the children’s shadows dance on the wall beside me. A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love. Our faith in you was really all I had heard them say. I would do my best not to fail them. Snow still fell on the pavement below. Brownstone roofs gradually whitened. Lights in distant skyscrapers shone with yellow symbols of a road’s lonely end, and as I stood at the window, looking at the lights and the snow, the ache of an old memory left me forever.

This essay was originally published in McCall’s in December 1961.

peace and love to you and yours.

own your moments.

usa road trip

my love & i on our honeymoon in 2010. we drove cross-country (usa). amazing.

i spent some cozy time with my love this afternoon. during our time together, she played some music on her phone, and pulled out an oldie. well, an oldie for us. a song and an artist that always takes us back to a certain time in our life together. listening to the artist’s voice and her songs today transported me directly back to 2009. i could smell things, see things, feel emotions. we were a fairly new couple, living in asheville, soaking up life like crazy back then.

i decided to listen to more of this artist on my way home, and then i heard it. the. perfect. song. at least the perfect message for me today. i had not thought of this song in a very long time, but when it began, the lyrics and music just washed over me and sunk deep into my soul. and i thought, “yes. exactly. now.”

you see, so much happens in life. so much can change within a day. and there are so many dreams, wishes, hopes, and plans we have. but, we get scared. or stuck. or something. why? what are we afraid of? why do we feel that we must do what everyone expects from us and close off those gut feelings we have? why do we ignore the passion that we feel deep within? why do we say “i can’t” instead of saying “yes!”.

you know, life is not easy. obstacles and difficulties and fears creep into our sunny days and make us want to give up. and then there are the days that we just want to hide under the covers. we wonder what the point is. or if we will ever feel good again. sometimes it just feels really tough and really hard and really lonely. it’s easy for me to get caught in these feelings actually. especially when life isn’t giving me exactly what i had planned, or when i simply feel exhausted and uninspired.

but, the other thing that life is, is unpredictable. and short. hearing the song today, being with my love, thinking about our future and our move and our dreams… all reminded me and confirmed within me to keep grabbing life by the horns, to keep seizing the day, to keep following our dreams, and to soak up every little of second of life that i can. there is no reason for any of us to sit on our asses or hide under the covers, but there is every reason to live life to the fullest. to love life, no matter what comes our way, and to fight for the crazy, breath-taking, amazing life that each one of us deserve!

One of these days you’ll be
under the covers, you’ll be
under the table and you’ll realize.
That all of your days are numbered;
all of them one to one hundred.
All of them millions.
All of them trillions.
So what are you gonna do with them all?
You can not trade them in for more…
No no

Take every moment; you know that you own them.
It’s all you can do, use what’s been given to you.

Give me a reason to
fight the feeling
that there’s nothing here for me.
Cause none of its easy,
I know it wasn’t meant to be.
I know it’s all up to me.
It’s all up to me.
So what am I gonna do with my time?


Ill take every moment, I know that I own them.
It’s all up to you to do whatever you choose.
Live like you’re dying and never stop trying.
It’s all you can do, use what’s been given to you.

All of the moments you didn’t notice;
gone in the blink of an eye.
And all of the feelings you couldn’t feel
no matter how you try.
Oh oh

Take every moment; you know that you own them.
It’s all up to you, to do whatever you choose.
Live like you’re dying and never stop trying.
It’s all you can do, use what’s been given to you.

Live like you’re dying and never stop trying.
It’s all up to you, use what’s been given to you.

so here’s what i’m gonna do. i’m gonna write a new bucket list kinda thing… one that i am gonna work on from now until my birthday in september. exactly 5 months from today. and that list full of dreams and goals is gonna be my “39 before 40”. yep, this year i turn 39. so, from my 39th birthday until my 40th birthday, i’m gonna accomplish 39 new, amazing things. in the meantime, i am gonna spend the next four months thinking, dreaming, living, and creating that list..

and to start with, i have a big project planned for may. a new kind of daily challenge. don’t you worry, i am gonna still create a photo challenge, but, i’m gonna take part in a personal 31 day challenge also. i’ve been inspired by my blogging friend laura. and my other blogging friend, holly, will be joining in too. more to come on all of this in a few days. stay tuned…

all of this is all about living my life so that when i’m an old, old lady, i’ll be sitting in my rocking chair, satisfied that i sucked everything i could out of this crazy, wonderful life.

ok, people. let’s do this!

live life. love it. and own your moments! peace.