// week forty // i’ve begun! weekend #1 of becoming a certified spiritual life coach.

well, here we go. full speed ahead. at least that’s how it feels to me.

but, i mean, really, what’s life but one big risk after another? and, what kind life would it be if there were no risks + challenges? so, i’m thinking that  it’s good to just go ahead and accept and embrace all of it. and to keep jumping and trying and moving. there’s tons of fear that comes along with all of the risks (that’s why they are called risks), but there is so much crazy amazingness that appears after that big jump into the unknown.


you may know that this weekend, i faced another big leap in my life. it was something that i was excited about, which makes things easier, but it was still completely unknown and freaking scary, if i’m honest.

on friday, i hopped on a bus on my own and headed to a camp out in the woods about 2 and a half hours from home. i left my love at home, a challenge in and of itself, and set my sights on my future. on taking a first, big step in making my dream of becoming a spiritual life coach a reality.

on the bus, i popped in my headphones and gazed at the swedish countryside, just beginning to show its autumn colors, as it whizzed by. at one point, i even saw a moose running across the field right beside the bus! i was so shocked and surprised that i only snagged a pic as we were almost past it. it was so freaking cool to see. my first swedish moose!

autumn-woods-surahammar-life-coach moose-surahammar-life-coach

after the excitement of the moose, i realized that my bus was running late, and i wondered if i’d make it to my second bus in time. luckily, as i ran off of one bus, in a city that i’d never been in before and had NO IDEA where anything was,  i noticed that my next bus was directly across the street. with literally 30 seconds to spare, i fumbled with my bag, my coat (i was now sweating from stress), and my yoga mat onto the bus and found a seat. whew.

about 30 minutes later i got off the bus at the only bus stop that exists in this tiny little town. and stood there for a minute getting my bearings. i noticed a man climbing out of a van and realized that this was probably my ride. so, i walked over, introduced myself, and discovered that this was my new life coaching teacher! suddenly, 3 other women were standing by the van too, all having gotten off of the same bus i was on. they were also soon-to-be coaches!

we piled our stuff into the van and i stepped into the front seat, and we were off. deeper into the beautiful swedish woods. away from everything and anything. except mother nature.

ravnas-surahammar-life-coach-camp camp-surahammar-life-coach autumn-camp-surahammar-life-coach

we arrived at a typical red-painted swedish camp, which was surrounded by fields, forests, and water. pretty much everything i love. there was so much sky. and so many trees. so much green. and so many bright, yellow leaves. and sparkling water. and even cows!

i found a room, a roommate, and threw my stuff down. yep. it was gonna be a cozy weekend.


of course, this was no sit back and meditate retreat. it wasn’t that kind of cozy. this was many hours of intense thought. deep questions and reflections about who i really am. what i want. why i am here. what i believe about myself and my life. what i want to change. why i don’t change the things that i want to change. and so on…

and, the thing is, none of these reflections were done alone. we were constantly either paired up or in a group. and i mean… constantly. so, there was no holding back. it was just to embrace the fact that it was time to be completely open with complete strangers. of course, that feels a bit weird. but, i am also a very open person, so i have no problem sharing. in fact, i’m a major talker once you get me going. i’m not afraid to share my story. hehe. plus, it was so inspiring to meet such amazing people, with amazing stories of their own.

translation of paper heading: my life story and what it says about me


lifestyles: the bubble that we live in/stay in because we are afraid of changelivsmonster-bubble-surahammar-life-coach

life just goes on and on in it’s little circle and it goes faster and faster… those unclear moments become more and more, until everything is unclear. (and then we are stuck).kjell-surahammar-life-coach

answer the following spontaneously: life is… (my answers: exciting, a journey, fine, up and down, a gift, important, meaningful, to live exactly as you are, something to share with another.)life-is-questions-surahammar-life-coach

in addition to the subject matter – of looking honestly at ourselves inside and out – of course the whole weekend was in swedish. and i am fluent in swedish, but still. it’s tough to express such deep things in your second language. and my brain was also super tired from working so hard. however, it went just fine! and it makes me an even better swedish speaker, which is awesome.

so, the weekend was literally discussions + reflections. in pairs + groups. meal times together. and meditations. with an hour of african and naive american dancing late saturday night together. that was pretty wicked awesome.

dance-african-surahammar-life-coach indian-dancing-surahammar-life-coach

there was one short hour in the middle of the day on saturday that we had some time to do what we wanted. and i spent that time alone in the woods. perfection.

trees-surahammar-life-coach sunshine-woods-surahammar-life-coach birch-trees-surahammar-life-coach-autumn red-mushroom-surahammar-life-coach woods-surahammar-life-coach mushroom-family-surahammar-life-coach path-woods-surahammar-life-coach mushroom-surahammar-life-coach path-surahammar-life-coach

our last activity on sunday, before eating lunch and heading our separate ways, was to begin coaching with another person. so, we gathered into pairs and spent an hour and a half coaching each other… 45 minutes per person. it was a bit nerve-wracking at first. i wondered if i’d  be “good”. i mean, i know i have done this type of thing for years in my professional life, but i am learning even more about it all now. and it was just intimidating because everything was becoming so real. know what i mean?

but, it went great! and i had a great, inspiring time with my partner.

so, I have A LOT to soak in between now and our next weekend in november. i haven’t even come close to processing all that happened and all that I thought about. but, i have come to a few conclusions already:

i am pretty damn secure in who I am. bam.

i have done some intense internal work for the past 8 years, which means that i am comfortable with myself. i am actually quite freaking self-aware. i know what i want right now. and i am not afraid of going after it (as evidenced by simply being there this weekend). so, now it’s time for action. time to actually build a business and share all that i have learned from my own life. it’s time for me to get to work, in the words.

i know i said all of this in my last blog post, but it was deeply confirmed this weekend. i am exactly where i am supposed to be, doing exactly what i am supposed to do. i am living a very aligned life right now. and i cannot describe exactly how freeing and wonderful that feels.

in no way am i saying that i am “there”. i am absolutely not. and i never will be in this lifetime. at least i hope not. i want to always be learning and growing and transforming. i want to always be getting closer + closer to “there”, and right now, i know that i am. so, i am completely satisfied about where i am and excited about where i am headed.

and i couldn’t ask for more than that in life. what a freaking precious amazing gift.

i know this was supposed to be a post about last week, but other than cheering my love on with her fight to freedom, working my first shift by myself at the photo boutique, and this first weekend in my life coach training, everything else has fallen by the wayside. these things are the most important.

so, for now, i’ll leave you with some of the photos i snapped during the weekend. in those rare moments that i was alone with my thoughts and soaking up the healing, inspiring energy all around me.
countryside-surahammar-life-coach water-surahammar-life-coach dock-surahammar-life-coach river-surahammar-life-coach autumn-water-surahammar-life-coach autumn-woods-surahammar-life-coach

frosty morning walksfoogy-morning-surahammar-life-coach sunrise-tree-surahammar-life-coach
morning-fog-surahammar-life-coach sunrise-house-surahammar-life-coach sunrise-fog-surahammar-life-coach sunrise-surahammar-life-coach fog-trees-morning-surahammar-life-coach

sun rays sunrise life coach

magical sunsets

trees-sunset-surahammar-life-coach tie-dye-sky-surahammar-life-coach

well, lovelies, i am exhausted after writing this post. my brain took a little break after i got home and spent some quality time with my main girl last night. (i looooove being with her more than anything).

now, however, i can feel my mind spinning again, trying to work on processing everything. feeling inspired and excited and ready to get to work – speaking of work, as part of my training i will be actually coaching some people. i have to have logged 60 hours of coaching in order to be certified. so, if you are interested… let me know! i can even do it over Skype of course!

ok. back to work. planning and writing and processing. wishing you a fantastic week, dear friends! and, if you come across some leap that you need to take, i highly recommend it. you can do so much more than you think that you can. so… jump! risk it! chase that dream!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

my magical clearing in the woods

i am still reeling from that crazy cosmic event on sunday/monday. did any of you see the blood moon and eclipse? i’ve heard from a few of you – so excited that you got to experience the magic. what about the rest of you? do tell!

i, of course, did not see anything. grrrr.

i set my alarm, got up, looked out the window… and saw clouds. i went out into the hall, thinking that perhaps there were only clouds on one side of my building. stupid, i know. but it was 3:45 am. and i was holding onto hope. nevertheless, there were clouds on the other side as well. and that was the side where the moon would be.

i climbed the round apartment building stairs up to the top floor, thinking that somehow i’d get above the clouds. not really. i did’t really think that. but, i was desperate. and still, nothing.

so, my love and i crawled back into bed. i searched the internet for some live streaming events and finally came upon something. just in time for the darkest time, the height of the eclipse. and it was awesome.

i intermittently got up out of bed and went to stand and the window, not seeing anything, but understanding that i could feel it all just the same. the moon was out there, whether i could see it or not. and perhaps there was some deeper meaning in all of that for me actually.

something about believing without seeing. knowing without understanding. feeling instead of watching.

i was awake for about 2 hours, through much of the entire eclipse. and, while, i didn’t get to capture any amazing photos or see the blood red moon myself, the energy still made its way all the way to me. just as it made it’s way to every single one of us.


after sleeping for a while in the morning, i rose to greet the new day. a new week. and many new things awaiting both my love + me.

i had the day off, so after going through some of my morning rituals, i decided to take advantage of the blue, sunshiny skies and take a bike ride. i may not have been outside enjoying the super moon the evening before, so i was going to get my nature fix during the day, while the moon was still full (even though it was daytime and i couldn’t see it).

i rode and rode and explored and wandered. i was gone only about an hour, but it was exactly what i needed. especially because i found a magical little clearing in the woods between two fields. i don’t know how long i stayed there. but, it must have been a while.

the birds were singing. the wind rustled the leaves. the colors were golden + warm. the sunshine, peeked in and out from behind the clouds. and i stood in this little circular opening and i felt completely alive.

autumn-path- golden-fields autumn-path-leaves bike-trees leaves-fall sunshine-trees-autumn

leaf-hand-trees tree-field field-uppsala path-field-uppsala nature-hombre-trees bike-trail-sunshine-autumn

it was the perfect celebration of autumn. of changes + traditions. of allowing + surrendering to all of the changes and traditions. of embracing a slow way of living. standing there, surrounded by mother nature, aware of the cosmic events that had taken place, i remembered to just be. that, come what may, whatever happens, life continues on. and i have all that i need.

does nature do this to you? where do you find peace and calm and reassurance and inspiration?

onwards + upwards! xoxo


i’ve got a feeling you’re gonna want to stay up late for this

there are some things that make me who i am that i get from my dad.

my love of photography + documenting life. my love of driving, especially long distances. go ahead: challenge us. 8 hours? 10 hours? we are totally up for it. my weather obsession. there’s a tornado warning? oh, yeah. we will go and stand at the door to look out. a hurricane coming? we will be glued to the tv for the insane entire 24 hour coverage. a thunderstorm? let’s stand on the porch and take photos! my love for airplanes + boats. my love for historical places (my mom loves this too!).

and my love for space. or the night sky. or the sky in general (see weather, photography, airplanes, etc. above).

photo by john rauda

photo by john rauda

as a kid, whenever something crazy was gonna happen in the night sky, my dad knew about it. now, we weren’t those people who packed it all up and went way out into the middle of nowhere to sky watch. but, we did stay up and go outside and enjoy it from our little suburban american backyard.

my family and i never talked about how these celestial events affected us here on earth, more than their affect on the tides in the ocean. but, somehow, through my experience of growing up + learning to love nature and the universe, i have come to realize that what my parents taught me, without even saying a word, was the beauty of the interconnectedness of everything. of all people, all places, all plants + animals, and all of the stars out there in the vast, endless night sky.

without saying a word, i hold my parents responsible for creating a life for me where exploration was natural. and where the natural was sacred. and because it was sacred, everything in us, everything in the universe, everything was connected to each other. creating a beautiful coexistence.

and so, today, when something happens way out there… i know that it happens in here (points to her soul) as well.

so, in honor of my dad always keeping me abreast of the night sky goings on, i am here to pass on some info to you: tonight, my friends, something crazy is gonna happen. and i’m pretty sure that you’re gonna wanna stay up and experience it.

tonight, as the moon rises in the sky. new opportunities, new beginnings arise in us as well.

moon rising

here’s what’s (scientifically) happening tonight:

it’s a powerful night to watch the sky.

tonight’s moon is the harvest moon, the full moon closest to the fall/autumn equinox. remember, in the northern hemisphere we changed seasons just a few days ago, passing from the light + warmth of summer in to the cozy, internally-focused darkness of autumn. this signifies the cycle of life, that changes are inevitable, death cannot be escaped. and yet, everything must die, in order to live again, to be born anew. could it be the same for us too?

tonight we will also experience a total lunar eclipse of the moon. this hasn’t happened since 1982 and won’t happen again until 2033. it is a very rare event. making it very special. isn’t that how it always is, with us, though? when something doesn’t occur often, we regard it with more honor and see it as something special and unique. we give those things that are rare more value + worth. so, it is with the lunar eclipse tonight. it is a valuable, worthy, special, moment for us to experience. perhaps we want to slow down just a little bit to soak it all in.

because of this type of rare eclipse, the moon is also known as a blood moon. tonight, the earth orbits between the sun and the moon, blocking out the light from the sun, which makes the moon “shine” during regular nights. tonight, as the earth passes through, the sun, earth, and moon will be in perfect, complete alignment. how freaking crazy is that?! there’s gotta be some symbolism in that, right? perfect alignment.

and, on top of the earth being in the middle, blocking the light that lights up the moon, as the earth passes by, the moon will appear red. hence the name “blood moon”. the little bit of light that seeps through before and after everything is perfectly lined up, will make the moon will appear red.

as if all of this were not enough, tonight’s moon is also known as a super moon. this means that the moon is closer to the earth than it usually is. it’s only about 8% closer, but it is enough to make it appear that the moon is huge in the night sky.

for me, all of this makes me just giddy with excitement.

and, while we can simply observe and look at the night sky’s happenings tonight and be inspired by the pure scientific and natural phenomena of it all, i am who i am. and i need to go deeper. it goes back to all of that i was talking about above in the beginning of this post. this interconnectedness that i feel. i need to ponder what we can learn from the heavens above.

photo by robert ondrovic

photo by robert ondrovic

so, what can all of this crazy moon stuff mean for us? 

well, it’s obvious that the cycle of nature is the same as the cycle of life, teaching us about life, death, and rebirth. there is much to learn from nature. so, i dare say that all of these cosmic happenings can hold symbolic meanings for us too.

it’s easy to see that what’s happening tonight is rare and beautiful and filled with energy. and that’s scientifically true. the tides get all crazy when there is a full moon, and when it’s a super moon, it’s even more crazy. so, first of all, all of this equals intense energy moving around us. up in space, down on earth, in our souls.

1 // surrender to change

and, anyone knows, when there is energy, something is happening. change is occurring. so, tonight, i believe that all of this magical, scientific moon stuff is reminding that life is about changes, especially considering that all of this is happening just a few days after the autumn equinox.

perhaps now is the time to let go. to surrender. to release the old ways of living + step into a new way of living + being. changes are inevitable, but right now, these changes can give us a doorway into a whole new way of living.

2 // align with your true self

as the earth and moon and sun all align for a short moment tonight, maybe we can use that magic to begin to learn how to align our own lives. to live the life on the outside that we feel called to on the inside. perhaps it’s a time of action. a time of learning to balance our ego, who we are, and what is best for our soul with our call to be in community, in partnership, and global beings. i don’t think of this as  something that is a struggle or a fight. it just is. it’s a time of high awareness of both. and the importance of both. we need to live our own authentic lives, while at the same time live as global, loving citizens.

3 // the power is within

so, as we stand on the brink of something new, a whole new way of living perhaps, we can realize with this big moon hanging above us tonight, that we have the power within. it’s up to us to choose. no one can do it for us. no one will do it for us. it is up to us to take control of our own lives, to choose to live the best lives that we can. it’s up to us to decide to take that first step in letting on + moving on.

4 // see your shadow side

nights like these, with their mysterious + mystical full moons and lunar eclipses, are the perfect time to take a few moments to discover that nudge that is within us. it’s the perfect time to stare out the window at the moon and wonder a bit about that quiet whisper within that tells us who we are and who we are supposed to be. and with the eclipse tonight as well, as the moon seems to be hidden for a moment, we can symbolically go within to our dark side as well. we can explore and look at those things that we are keeping in the shadows of our soul.

don’t push it away right now. let’s embrace our shadows. embrace our darkness. look and feel and see all that is within us – the good and the bad. see where we are stuck.

an aligned life embraces the balance of the light + the dark. just as the earth, aligned with the sun + the moon stand directly and perfectly balanced in between the two.

moon path

whether you are spiritual or not, tonight’s moon happenings are something to experience. i invite you to spend a few moments gazing at the sky. and, if you really feel like it, pull out a journal or your blog and write down your thoughts + feelings. explore the ways that you see your life changing. think about who you really want to be. discover the dark within, face it, and then decide what choices you want to make in your life. change is happening. it is occurring. and it always will. such is life. and we are called to simply surrender to that.

but, how we respond to it, what we do with our lives, well, that’s all up to us. 

use the cosmic love + beauty of the night to inspire you to move forward. and remember, that you are loved + accepted just as you are. hold on, surrender, reach inward + move forward. you are called to greatness. moon blessings to you all.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

and just for fun:

since we all live in different places, tonight’s events are happening at different times. you can use this eclipse calculator to figure out the best time to view the eclipse from your location.

the times in uppsala, sweden (where i live):

begins: mon, 28 sep 2015, 02:11

maximum: mon, 28 sep 2015, 04:47

ends: mon, 28 sep 2015, 07:22

duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes

the night that the sunset + i met on a hill

the other night when i left work, as i stepped out into the fresh air, i noticed that the building was glowing from the setting sun. it was bright and orange and shiny.  and i knew that signaled that my ride home was going to be perfect. the timing was going to be just right.

as i rode my bike, i steadied my left hand on the handle bars + gripped my phone tightly in my right hand and began snapping away. riding up + down, and around the curves.

some might say that i “missed it” because i was cycling and snapping photos all at the same time, instead of stopping to enjoy the beauty.  but, i tell you, i was totally in the moment. i felt the cool breeze whipping through my hair. i felt the last bit of warmth from the sun. i saw the glow, and the dust dancing in the sun’s rays. i noticed the colors of the clouds. i experienced it all.

and it was just perfect.

sunset cycling uppsala sunset cycling uppsala sunset cycling uppsala sunset cycling uppsala sunset cycling uppsala sunset cycling uppsala sunset cycling uppsala

wishing you a beautiful + happy saturday, lovely people!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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.

mantras that blow my mind

about a week ago i shared with you some awesome mantras that i came across. and, i challenged us to discover + create some mantras of our own.

it was really fun to dig into my soul and pull out some of the words that always touch me. words that i now realize are not that deep inside me. for, as i began to list my mantras, i realize how they are connected to my core beliefs + priorities in life. i draw on them constantly at different times the day or week or year, for they all have their own purpose.

and, it turns out that i have a ton of matras/sayings/phrases/quotes that i return to again + again in my life. and i most definitely cannot narrow it down to one. so, you’re gonna get blasted with those that mean the absolute most to me.

yes, it can be annoying with words and quotes. it can feel cliche and fake. some of my mantras may be sayings that “everyone” uses. but, f*ck that (see how i used that mantra from the other week, now bringing into my fold of go-to mantras?!). these words + phrases speak to me deeply. personally. so i’m totally fine with sharing them with the rest of the world. i don’t even care what the rest of the world thinks about them, or me. all i know is that when i need them, these mantras are here to remind me + inspire me.  i suppose you could say that they define me.

1. i am the vine. you are the branches. 

when things feel crazy, or get hectic, or i forget who i am, or feel stressed out about what to do, then i go straight to this mantra to remind me that, in reality, i have only one job. the only thing that i am supposed to do is be.
me vine tattoo

if you think about what a branch on a vine does, it ain’t much. it is not actively doing anything except remaining attached. the work flows through it. flowers + leaves bloom only because the branch remains attached. we are the same. all that we can give and be for this world, all that we need to do in order to make a difference is to simply be. to be exactly who we are, attached to our soul, letting the life and magic of the universe, and of spirit, flow through us. when we are true to ourselves, then we will make more of a difference than we could ever imagine.

2. all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

this is a quote from the christian mystic, julian of norwich. julian lived in england in the 13oos, right in the middle of the time of the plagues. she lost most everyone she knew to death and even fell deathly ill herself. and it is recorded that she had visions, or showings, of jesus christ to her. in these mystical experiences she came to understand the boundless love that god has for everyone. that life is much more about relationships and compassion, than of duty and rules.

she spent her life, after recovering, cloistering herself in a little room off of the side of a church, anchoring herself to her faith. she was,in fact, called an anchoress, meeting with people through a hole in the wall, listening to them and talking with them. counseling + supporting them.

hers was an optimistic theology. one that she shared with everyone she talked with, and even in her all of her writings. her message? in the end, god is good and only good. and all will be well.


what more can i say myself except, this i believe deeply. this is the core of who i am and how i see the world. it is not some rose-colored, unicorn optimism. it is not some simplistic, childish belief (or maybe it is). but, it is a deep knowing, a knowing i tell you, that all will be well. i cannot describe it more. and while i have had no showings like julian, i have had moments. and i know, just as much as i know that i am breathing, that this mysterious, inexplicable belief is true.

3. breathe

in life, i remember that, in order to stay focused, motivated, and authentic… in order to stay connected (see #1 above), then i must simply breathe. i must get quiet so that i can hear. i must go within. i must contemplate, meditate, practice yoga, pray, and take care of my soul. for, when i do that, then i feel + hear + know.  i can more easily embrace the mystical, mysterious parts of life, because of the experiences i have when i retreat and spend time alone. it is like nourishment for the soul. a chance to let go + surrender. a safe place of peace, where anxiety and worry and fear gain perspective. when i simply remember to breathe, then i simply remember who i am. and that all is well (see #2 above).

4. there’s no where you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be

thank you, beatles. when i first heard this lyric, and really heard it for what it was, then i knew that it captured a spiritual belief that many mystics/gurus/monks/theologians hold to be true. the present moment is all we have. practicing the art of living in the present moment helps us to create a life of gratitude, compassion, love, joy, and inner peace. and while i am no expert at this at all, i have found that as the years pass, i am able to grasp onto this way of living more + more. and, as i do, my life has become filled with a sense of calm and certainty that exists even as chaotic, messiness swirls around me.


when i am able to accept where i am, even if i don’t like it at that specific moment, then i am much more able to go with the flow of the universe, as the tao says. and this, in turn, immerses us in a way of living in the middle of mystery and energy. we get wrapped up in the crazy, beautiful, mystical spirit that tells us who we are. and, in order to do that, we simply must forget what we think we know is best for us at all times. we must let go of expectations. we must set aside the beliefs that we think that we have to know the fact or have all of the power. we must put down the ideas that money, security, success, and the “normal” way is the way to growth and transformation. no, friends, the way is the way of freedom and lightheartedness and calm in the midst of everything that happens. it the way that focuses only on what is really real: love.

5. it’s not about the destination, it’s all about the journey.

oh lord have i annoyed people with this mantra of mine. if you know me well, then you know that i throw this out there all of the time. but, i am convinced of its truth for our lives.

as a lover of travel, i automatically use the metaphor of a journey when i think about life. many of us do. we all know the references. the mountains, the valleys, the deserts, the oceans to cross, the canyons to jump. the trails to wander. we even talk about which path we choose to take in life when we talk about deciding on a career. we know that we are on a journey. that life is one long process of living.

road trip new mexico

as a kid, just like everyone else, when i took a roadtrip with my parents all i could think about was the destination. when would we get there? i just wanted the trip to be over. but, my parents somewhere along he way taught me that the trip was part of the journey. yes, the destination was important, but just as important were all of the sights we saw along the way. something that took me a long time to learn.

but, now that i get it, i embrace it. and it makes life so much more fun. it’s a very concrete way to live in the present moment (see #4). and i find myself doing my best to teach those around me that adventure is found everywhere. that part of life is living right now, experiencing what is happening right now, and letting all of it become part of the story of our journey in life. besides, if we only focus on the end, then we will miss out on so very much.

believe me, though, i call on this mantra when i’m dealing with a challenge, or when something is not going my way. i literally remind myself that it’s all part of the journey. that the missed train or the unexpected job or even the death that occurs, is all part of my story. all something to teach me and transform me and help me grow. and all i need to do is just take one more step forward.

6. the mountains are calling and i must go

i think that i think about this mantra of mine every single day. even if i don’t go outside, and even if i am nowhere near some deep, beautiful nature, i call up images of trees, water, forests, and mountains in my mind’s eye. i need nature. i need to see the sky. i need to feel the breeze. i need to gaze out over the sea, or feel the sand, or smell a flower, or touch a leaf. nature renews my soul. nature teaches me. some of the most powerful moments i have had in my life have occurred among nature. in the midst of nature, i feel vulnerable + powerful all at the same time. i recognize my place in the world, just another living thing called to be true to who i am.

max patch

oh, i love the city. but, i daily remind myself that the mountains are always calling me. they are softly whispering to me to get out + explore. they are always urging me to take the long way home. and even if i can’t get out into the countryside, the mountains are calling me to observe all of nature that is around me.

7. the world is my parish

so, this one comes from my theology days as well. it’s something that john wesley, the father of the methodist denomination, said in reference to his work. in england in the 1700s, wesley was pretty much pissed off with how the anglican british church was handling things. many blue collar workers, the poor, widows, children, were being left out of the anglican church. it had become a church for the elite, with close to no social work involved. wesley, an anglican (as everybody was then) pastor/minister was not satisfied with people being left out, and not being able to hear a message of love and grace from god.

so, he took to the streets. literally. he preached from fields in the countryside, early in the morning, where people could stop for a moment to and from their shifts at work. he preached in the town squares, traveling on horseback from city to city. eventually, he found himself on a ship to america, where he began preaching to slaves, natives, as well as the colonial whites from europe. of course this was scandalous. and viewed by the church of england as being in contempt.

homeless refugee

but, wesley was living out his mantra: the world is my parish. now, a parish is an ecclesiastical (religious) district having its own church and member of the clergy. it’s the small area where a pastor/minister is assigned to work and serve the people. like a town, or neighborhood, or county. wesley, however, defined the entire world as his parish. and he lived just as he said. preaching and sharing a message not of class, damnation, fear, or judgement to people; but rather a message on endless grace and love offered to every single person in the world. and he didn’t really care what the church of england thought about him.

i grew up a methodist, hearing this message myself in the churches that i attended. i learned about wesley and his methodical, old establishment-pushing ways of sharing that message. and then, i began preaching and sharing that same message myself. i shared it not because it was what i supposed to do. no one ever told me what i should or should not believe. i shared that message because i grew to believe it myself.

map wall asheville

and today, i still believe in the same message that john wesley spread in his unconventional, status quo-crushing, daring ways. the message of love that all people should be able to hear.

today, i often quote this mantra to myself as i walk around. as i see all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations, with all kinds of lives. and as i travel to far off places and countries. this mantra reminds me that we are all equal. that we all deserve love and justice and peace. that is our right as human beings, and there is not one person left out from the grace and love that is available to us, within us.

i may not preach or work in a church anymore, but i don’t need to. the world is my parish. the whole world is where i work to use my life to bring about peace and to share love. at least, that is my hope.

8. follow your bliss

this is that great quote by the mythologist, philosopher, writer joseph campbell. when i stumbled onto it years ago, it was just the permission that i needed at that point in my life to give me that extra push to being to truly live that life that i had been working on creating inside me.

path camp

i repeat this mantra constantly. it is an empowering one. and one that sums up everything. period. it is being attached, and knowing that all will be well. it is breathing, being present in the moment, enjoying the journey, connecting with nature, and sharing love with the world. for me, follow your bliss, is learning to embrace a life of being, loving, and living.

 9. be. love. live.

and this is the mantra that i created for myself, and for this blog, 4 and a half years ago. it has now become a way of living. and here is what i mean when i say be.love.live:


find yourself. find what makes your soul sing. and do it. follow that path. commit to letting your inner voice lead you. follow your instinct, your heart, your soul. be you – exactly who you were created to be. because you are beautiful and you are loved. just as you are. embrace everything that you are. love yourself and others just a little bit more. live your life to the fullest. it makes all the difference in the world – for you, and for everyone around you. 

onwards + upwards! xoxo

thanks so much for reading, and for creating your mantras, if you did. and if you didn’t, well, then get to it! please leave a comment below and a link to your blog post with your mantras. it’s so great to share + get inspiration from each other!


// week thirty eight // it’s the little things that mean the most

hello lovelies! welcome to our new week!

well, last week was a little like a broken record. work work work work. i have been so busy with work lately. and it’s been really, really great. but i am totally exhausted. so much new photography stuff has been crammed into my brain. and swedish all the live long day. whew. my brain is fried. but, it’s great to get to speak so much swedish since we only speak english at home (totally fine with me, by the way). speaking of home, i pretty much crash on the couch for a couple of hours in the evening and then sleep and then do it all over again.

however, don’t feel sorry for me one little bit. i have been learning the art of living in the present moment and how to fill those moments with gratitude and mindful awareness over the past few years when i’ve not had a “regular” work schedule. so, every day when i bike to and from work, i let that fresh air fill my lungs (sometimes i can hardly breath, though, given the hill i must tackle on my way there). but, still. it’s fresh and cool. and i pass trees and fields. and, of course, i begin my days with my meditation practice, so that keeps me focused and grounded.

plus, at work, i get to talk with so many sweet, cute, kind people. and i have the privilege of creating the photos that will be their memories. to stand there and help them, listening to their stories, and seeing their faces light up ss they flip through photos or watching them as they plan how they will perserve themes memories is such an honor. it truly is.

i did have the weekend off though – from friday until sunday, so i’ve had a good breather. and i’ve spent the time soaking up just being with my love. we’ve done a little shopping. blogging. and just being at home.

as for my love’s health and our life situation right now, we could not be more grateful + overwhelmed + moved by all of your words of inspiration, motivation, and love. just knowing that we have so many people out there that are thinking of us and sending us lots of energies from all corners of the world warms our hearts immensely. we’re doing ok. pushing through. taking it one day at a time. frustrated at this limbo time. but feeling, as i said, so blessed.

so, with that said, lemme share with you a few photos from the week. i seemed to have captured a little snap of nature every single morning on my way to work – and that definitely was not my plan. i realize again how very dependent i am on nature to inspire me, connect me, and prepare me for my day ahead.


coffee at work

tuesdaymorning nature work
wednesdaywindowsill berries
thursday (headed home + ready for 3 days off!)sunset
weekend! relax sofa home autumn computer sofa

the wild truth book sunset

 i sure do hope that your week was a good one, and i am sending you all of my best wishes and lots of love as a new week begins.

i, for one, am super pumped because… it’s my birthday week!!!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week thirty seven // the answer is blowin in the wind

happy monday to you! here we are again, at the start of a new week. i still feel as if i am spinning. like life has picked up some crazy, ridiculous speed. and yet, i also still feel quite calm. i am sorry if i sound like a broken record right now. but, it’s just a crazy time for me. so much is happening. so much is changing. life is really taking hold here in uppsala, which is good. at the same time, i have extreme homesickness for the mountains of north carolina.

with everything flying around about me, changing, transitioning, moving forward, i just pray that i stay grounded. that i remain true to myself. that i slow down each and every day.

technically, i don’t feel like that will be a problem, but i am just trying to stay aware. i am trying to really, truly focus on the present moment, even as the present moment is filled with so much that i never imagined.

field blowing

there truly has been a sudden shift in my life int he past two-three weeks. since summer vacation ended. of course, things have changed drastically throughout 2015, as at the beginning of the year my love and i found ourselves moving back to sweden.

yes, so very much has shifted and is still shifting. and it is just taking me a while to adjust. there is much that i don’t recognize, and much that is familiar. ultimately, i’ve spent so long dreaming, planning, wishing, hoping and suddenly stuff is happening. suddenly there is no need to sit + wish. now it’s time to go with the flow that’s quickly flowing, and at the same time stay consciously connected + grounded + aware.

i feel a bit like this photo above. completely secure and yet whipping + blowing in the breeze of a swift wind. i’m safe and being true to myself. yet i am being blown around. but, the reeds, the grass, they inspire me. they remind me that, once again, the ultimate job that i have is to simply stay attached. to keep my heart + head and soul aligned. to listen. to bend. to just be me.

last week, i didn’t take as many photos as i usually do because i worked so many hours. many of the photos i did take i have already shared with you in my blog posts from last week. so, if you’d like to see some of how my week was you can check here, here, and here. today, i just felt like this one photo and these reflections were exactly what i needed.

now, it’s time to get this week underway +  we shall see what other changes come into our life as the days pass. in the meantime, my soul knows that i must meditate. i must sleep. write. eat. enjoy. and stay connected. the energy that i feel is strong. it is a bit foreign to me. but, it is pushing + guiding me into a whole new phase in life.

i admit that, at first, the wind + craziness have felt scary. but, as i remain in the essence of who i am, it all settles down and i become at one with the flow. the answer really is, my friend, blowing in the wind.

video created on saturday on the grounds of the castle in uppsala

onwards + upwards! xoxo

venus retrograde: six weeks to figure out what you love

night sky

something big is happening in the stars again.

back in the beginning of july i eluded to the fact that this month was lining up to be an intense, powerful, inspiring month. i like to call it the summer of love. (read what i said about it –> here).

we’ve made it through one full moon, one new moon, and we have another full moon ( a blue moon actually) waiting in the wings.

but, first, we have what an encounter with venus… you know the goddess of love, the planet closest to us, and boy will this encounter give us an interesting ride.

beginning today, 40 days of venus retrograde begins. (july 25 – september 6)

if you remember, retrograde is when, if you look up in the night sky, it appears that something is moving backwards across the sky. of course, it actually isn’t, but the illusion of it seems to stir up lots of crazy things + powerful opportunities.

back in the late spring, we experienced mercury retrograde, which made things feel all topsy turvy. well, venus retrograde isn’t going to make us feel so scattered + out of control as we were back in the spring, but it will give us an amazing, emotional, intense opportunity to reassess our life.

especially when it comes to love. (makes sense, huh? being the name of the goddess of love?)

when venus turns retrograde today, we are being asked to look at exactly what love means for each of us. i am talking about love of others in our life, self-love, and what we have prioritized in our life.

as kate says: over the next 40 days, “we will have two options: to hide in the shadows and miss the opportunity of a lifetime, or to go after what is inside of our hearts.  it’s not a question of if we will make a big jump—but a matter of when. and there is a push to literally look around and see what truly makes us happy.”


venus is giving us a chance to realign our awareness on love, relationships, what we value and what we’re worth. it’s a mystical, magical and important period that doesn’t come around all that often. it’s a time to reflect on the inner value of your experiences rather than outer display.

it’s all up to us whether we want to take advantage of this time to reflect and realign and take stock on what + who is really important to us. those things that we are most passionate about, that we really truly love, and are advantageous to our lives by helping us to live our truth.

the venus retrograde period turns out to be the perfect time to focus on the quality of life over the desire for financial gain, in other words, we get to decide for oversells what’s more important. money, power, success, security… or an authentic life, love, peace, etc. it’s ok whatever we choose. the point is to slow down just long enough to really think about what we are giving our time + attention to, what we say we love, and see if those two things line up. we are given a chance to reassess our priorities, in our work and in the people that we invite into our lives,  focusing on our inner need for contentment and fulfillment and what/who really makes us happy.

either way, this retrograde period is tempting us to reconsider our approach to relationships of all kinds: what’s important to us? what (and who) do we want in our lives, and why? and more importantly, what we have to offer?

sunset sweden

venus retrograde is a time when we may be forced to re-examine what we consider “worth it.” if we use the next 6 weeks wisely, we will think about the activities, people and things in which we have invested our time, energy, commitment and money… and if what they are giving us are the rewards we thought we had bargained for. not monetarily, of course, but in relation being true to ourselves + following our bliss.

it’s all about continuing to realign ourselves to that path in life where we feel that we are living our truth, living the life that we were called to live. 

again, kate says this: “we have to trust all the lessons in letting go of what was no longer serving us. and we have to believe that we have learned a lot about how we want to authentically live our lives.

venus will be in retrograde until september 6th… so take a deep breath, because this retrograde will be anything but casual. it’s all about how deep we can go”

lots of love to you all… and happy venus retrograde!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week twenty eight (part 2) // the healing magic of sweden’s nature

hello, friends! have i got a treat for you today!

get ready to breathe deep + feel the healing magic of the swedish archipelago. yesterday i shared a bunch of photos with you about camp life in the archipelago – i spent last week there. but, the other part about being out in the archipelago is communing with nature.

to get there, after 2 hours or so, you turn off of the main highway and then drive for a while longer deep into wild, free, green forests of southern sweden. it’s as if you can hear + see the legendary trolls scampering about to hide behind or beneath rocks. and i swear that if i peer closely out the window as we make our way down the gravel roads, i can see fairies flitting about between the greenery, darting behind trees, alighting on the sunshine-drenched wildflowers.

out here everything is natural. everything is organic. everything is simple. and real. and possible.

the air is clear and fresh. the water, cold and clean (minus the seaweed + sea grass floating about sometimes). the sun sets late at night and rises again just a few hours later.

if i stand on the rocks by the edge of the water, i can hear the sea calling me. i feel instant peace. instant serenity. and my breath becomes slow and steady and deep.

yes, there is magic here. there is healing here. if you just slow down… just enough to look for a moment. just enough to feel it. that’s right, here you are one with nature. one with the earth. completely connected. the universe is no longer something that is out there. god is no longer something that is out there. you are enveloped in the wonder of the divine and the sacred.

see for yourself…. and slow down as you gaze at the photos. i so wish for you the pure peace and tranquility that i felt.

path-trees-skeppsgarden dark-forest-trees-skeppsgarden trees-flowers-skeppsgarden trees-sunshine-skeppsgarden trees-skeppsgarden beach-skeppsgarden water-reeds-skeppsgarden green-trees-water-skeppsgarden rocks-calm-skeppsgarden calm-relfection-skeppsgarden tree-skeppsgarden tree-rowing-skeppsgarden oar-water-skeppsgarden skeppsgarden-water

clouds-skeppsgarden rainy-day-skeppsgarden
dark-dock-skeppsgarden cloudy-beach-skeppsgarden

pink-sunsets-skeppsgarden golden-sunset-skeppsgarden sea-skeppsgarden blue-water-skeppsgarden water-sea-skeppsgarden skeppsgarden-view calm-sunset-skeppsgarden pink-sunset-skeppsgarden swimming-skeppsgarden bubbles-sunset-skeppsgarden

wherever you are today, just take a moment to look around at the nature that surrounds you. if you’re in the city, just find a shrub or a flower, or even a weed. or simply stand beside your window and look up, or down. anything that is natural will do. meditate on the nature around you for a few minutes. breathe it in. let it heal you. let yourself become swept away in the beauty and the simplicity. and for one second, just give thanks. and know that, even in the midst of all that is going on in life, you are whole. and you, just like the bits of nature all around us, are perfectly sacred + divine + are simply called to be exactly who you are.

“the miracle is not to fly in the air or walk on the water, but it is to wander around right here on earth.” // china

onwards + upwards! xoxo