open hearts? no. open minds? no. open doors? no. open wounds? yes!

friends, it’s happening again. love is on trial. you know, when people get together and begin to decide who is right and who is wrong. who gets to love whom. who gets to get married and to whom. and, in this case, who gets to do the marrying.

if you don’t know this already, here is a little background info on me:

  • i grew up in the united methodist church, and am still a member. though, not so active now.
  • the methodist church has always been a church that focuses on grace, love, and social issues, leading civil rights issues in the 60s. i felt at home here.
  • my granddad was a methodist minister, and i wanted to be just like him. he has always been my inspiration.
  • so, i decide to pursue this calling and was offered a job in a church a long time ago.
  • as of today, i have worked as a minister in a united methodist church (umc) for a total of 10 years.
  • during that time i studied theology and ministry at an african methodist seminary – an amazing, life-changing, world-opening, theology-busting experience.
  • i planned on being ordained in the umc – like an ordained minister, pastor, preacher, minister kinda person.
  • so to recap: i worked as a minister (unordained) for 8 years. i had a master’s of divinity degree. i jumped through all the hoops over all the years to become an ordained minister. i felt called to this, from deep within my soul. i was ready.
  • i met an amazing woman & fell in love.
  • soon, we got married and i was happier than i’d ever been. yes. woman + woman = love.
  • when i got married i was in my last step of ordination = i had completed the 4 year process of seminary, plus all of the paperwork and approvals by various groups & committees.
  • at a final committee meeting to approve to send me to the last committee before ordination (provisional is the fancy term), i mentioned that i was moving to sweden.
  • no problem, they all said. the umc is in sweden so i could still complete my process.
  • the problem came when i said that i was married. and used the words “wife” and “lina”, indicating that i was married to a woman.
  • the meeting abruptly stopped and i was asked to leave the room due to the fact that i violated a rule in the book of discipline (the rule book for the umc).
  • the rule, you ask? the umc will not ordain anyone who professes that they love and/or are living with someone of the same sex because it is “incompatible with christian teaching.”
  • after some time, someone came to get me and the committee gave me 2 options:
  • 1. since i had said that i was married to a woman out loud, and that is against the rules = no lgbt person can be ordained in the methodist church who says they are in any lgbt relationship, then i could pull my candidacy and quit the process myself. OR
  • 2. i could continue to say that i want to be ordained, follow my calling and what i feel is right for my life, and leave my fate up to the committee to decide = make them de-certify me as a candidate for ministry and say that i am no longer fit or worthy to be ordained.
  • guess what i chose? yep. 2. there was no way in hell i was giving up and quitting. they would have to force me out and deny my the right to be ordained.
  • and they did just that.
  • all because of who i loved. and because i said that i loved her.
  • never mind all the years of work in a church, all the years of studies, and endorsements from others (including some in that room).
  • never mind that i was exactly the same person that i had always been, even the same person as 1 minute before i said that i was married to lina. i did not change. i have not changed. i am still me, with all my gifts and passions and ways to help the world & the church. i still have all of the same things to offer. but, never fucking mind.
  • that was that. the end. candidacy over.
  • ordination was no impossible.
  • i was crushed.
  • and then i was pissed.

today the methodist church was at it again. only this time is was not against a person who was married to/in a relationship with the same sex. this time, it was a man, a methodist minister, who performed a wedding ceremony for his son and his son’s, now, husband.

Frank Schaefer

yep. the umc does not only discriminate against those who want to be ministers and are in same-sex relationships, like me, but they will not allow any of their current ordained ministers to perform any same-sex marriages. another rule in the book. but, this minister, this dad, broke that rule, saying that he was ministering out of love – and that the love overrides, overrules the ban on same-sex marriage. good for him!

how can a church say that people in same-sex relationships can not get ordained and can not get married, but are still “welcome” to be in the church and are worthy, just like everyone else? it’s a mixed message. and it’s just freaking wrong. it’s exclusionary. and, i do believe that jesus, who the church follows (not a rule book!), always INCLUDED everyone. exclusion was not in his vocabulary. so, why is the umc so exclusive?

well, the minister that performed the wedding for his son was put on trial yesterday. yes, the methodist church has a judicial system, to make it more democratic – which is a good thing. potentially. yesterday the court ruled that the minister was guilty of violating the law of the book. again – the book, not jesus. where are the freaking priorities here?!

and today, just a few minutes ago, to be exact, the minister’s fate was decided. the jury decided that the minister is suspended for 30 days and that at the end of his 30 days, he must repent (say he is sorry and he did wrong), or else he must turn in his ministerial orders = be stripped of his ordination. no longer a minister in the methodist church. all because of a wedding.

you see, the jury did a cowardly thing today. the jury decided not to take a stand on this divisive issue and make a real ruling. they didn’t want him to continue to be a minister, but they didn’t want to defrock him and strip away his orders either. so they took the easy ass way out. gave him a suspension and then said HE had to decide what to do. that’s just bs and exactly what the umc seems to be all about – let’s take the middle road and not offend. let’s see if we can navigate in the middle and make everyone happy, or better yet, just not make any strong statement for or against anything. gaaahh. infuriating!

hmm… reminds me of my “choice”. that committee who was dealing with me did not want to de-certify me as a candidate for ministry. there were many amazing people on that committee, who i know loved me, and were very sad to see the situation come up. but, i was not about to let the umc off too easy. it was not me that had changed my mind – i still wanted to be ordained. i was determined to force the book of discipline force me out. i was determined to make the committee deal with the issue. and they did. they chose to follow the book.

on the one hand, i understand. but i also understand that there are many who, like me, disagree with certain rules in the book, but still uphold it. and here’s where i am with that now: nothing will change unless we stand up and make it change. if we keep disagreeing and, yet, still keep following the things we disagree with, then we will remain a church that is divided and focused on excluding people because of our need to follow the rules. i pretty sure jesus wasn’t too concerned about rules that seemed to be unjust. or, rather, he was concerned with them. he blew right past them, ignored them, and taught others that there is a more just way. he stood for something and made a difference, risking even his life for things that no one around him understood. when will you, umc, follow in the footsteps of jesus?

what does warm my heart ever-so-slightly in the midst of all of this, is reading twitter and seeing the resolve of so many ordained ministers who are saying that they, too, will refuse to follow the entire book of discipline. that they will stand up and take that chance. maybe, just maybe. one day there will be a change, if enough people get up enough courage. i’m sorry, brothers & sisters in ministry, i would join you, if i was ordained. i’d stand up.

so, i am pissed again today. and disappointed. and glad that i have stepped away somewhat from the church. i know that it is all about making change and staying in so that change can come from within, but you know what? they wouldn’t let me in. and i am/was not called to be a lay person in the umc. i am/was called to be an ordained minister. so, for now, i have no place there. i’ve been kicked out. and that’s fine. i’ll keep sending letters and pleading my case. but, i can’t do it from the inside, because they won’t let me in.

being stripped of my candidacy happened almost 4 years ago. and the wounds are still fresh. and every time something like this trial comes up again in the life of the umc, i am hopeful. i hope that there will be a change, that more people will say screw the book and let’s love the people. but, it doesn’t happen. there are plenty of people who are saying it, but it’s not happening. so, every time there is a new trial or a new part of this old controversy, my wounds gape even wider. it hurts. it stings. and i move further and further away from the church that i knew and loved.

i just can’t do it. there are too many other places where i am wanted and needed and able to make my mark. so, that’s what i am doing.

but, my heart still aches. i miss my church. and i am so. very. disappointed. the church seems to have no idea how this affects people. i keep dragging these feelings and emotions of unworthiness and confusion around with me, like heavy chains. most of the time i can forget about them, or i have grown used to them, but every now and then, on days like today, i am reminded that i am not welcome as i am. i am reminded that, though i did everything right, i fell in love with the “wrong” person (according to the church) and “broke” a “rule”.

and then i get pissed again. because, i am not in the wrong. love is never, ever wrong. listen to me: love is never, ever wrong.

but, tonight. i am done. it hurts too much. the pain will never heal. it will keep getting easier, but there will always be a hole in my heart. all i ever wanted was to give my life to the umc, but they wouldn’t have me.

still, i must move on and forward. and leave this all behind. it’s done. and i will never ever, not for one second, regret being true to who i am, for having the integrity and courage to say that just because i love a woman, does NOT mean that i am not worthy of ministering.

i guess the umc will just miss out on my ministry. but, god will not. and the world will not. because faith, love, hope, and service are bigger than the methodist church.

peace. justice, and love for all.

skulls and flowers for friday.

oh, my dear readers, this just might be the week from hell.

on top of the whole “holy week” focus on death thing, so many other things have been happening as well. my love’s fierce battle with her sickness. fixing everything regarding the cancelled trip to china.  the emotional and physical exhaustion of dealing with a death in the family and everything that goes with being part of the funeral (which was yesterday). tons of house guests (funeral and not funeral-related) – which have been amazing, but still, something that is out of the ordinary. making sure we alert all of the practical places about our upcoming move (phone company, apartment landlord, etc). everything has to be communicated 3 months before we move out, which is now. it’s still cold & wintery in sweden – though today might have been a sign that spring will come one day. oh yeah, and work.

i feel as if i’m having an out of body experience. my love & i are on autopilot right now. perhaps just going through the motions. and i think we’ll stay that way until sunday at some point. and then, i’m off. since i’d already planned on taking 2 weeks vacation, i am just gonna stay home next week. rest. go shopping. write. do what i want. we’ll see what i do about my second week of vacation…. but i’m not gonna concern myself with that until next week. i must say, though, it feels amazing to know that next week i am free. perhaps i’ll take a day retreat by myself.

for now, it’s just time to push on through. i’m working pretty much all day tomorrow. the depressing death of jesus day. but, a day that i believe must be faced. christian or not, a believer or not, i think that it’s a day that symbolizes the human struggle between light and dark. fear and courage. disappointment and hope. violence and peace. injustice and equality. death and life. these are all part of the human condition. and i believe that we must be willing to stare our tough times in the eye. we can’t just run away. because all that’s tough and painful, will always follow us. it is part of life. instead, we must go through it all. deal with it. suck it up. let it be as it is. embrace the pain… and know that something will come from it.


that’s the thing i’ve been thinking about this week as everything seems to feel heavier & heavier in my heart and soul. in a way that perhaps i have never known before, i know tonight as i write this, from deep within, that this heaviness, this pain, this suffering ends with transformation.

the power of easter is that from death comes life. from darkness comes light. from pain & suffering we are transformed. we grow. we change. and that, my friends, is good news. it’s great news. the suffering is gonna exist. but, we can let it change & transform us unto better versions of ourselves. or we can become victims. stuck in a cycle of pain & disappointment, never really experiencing the joy of being alive. through the transformation, we become better at being who we are. i become a better me. you become a better you. but, we can’t run away from the dark times. the dark times, the burning fire, the time spent stuck and trapped, transforms us and our lives. and soon, we realize that we feel more alive than we ever thought possible.

yes, this week has been hell. but, without it, i would not know the joy of life. i would not be reminded, once again, that life is precious. that i must say & do the things that i want to say & do before i lose the chance. that disappointment makes me stronger. that struggles inspire & challenge me. that the pain of this week will make me a better person. i may not know how, i may not understand everything now, but one day it will all make sense. you see, without confronting and embracing death & suffering,  i cannot be transformed into a person who understands the fleeting nature of life is so that i can truly be alive.

so, dear ones, i say this to you, but mostly to me: keep holding on.

death is coming for now; but life, a life that is inspiring and amazing and whole, is coming after. you & i were made for this. we were made to live life to the fullest. we are more than strong enough to face death and pain and suffering head on, and to dance through life anyway. we were made to be exactly who we are, and to use our lives for good.

skull and flowers

peace and love. even in the darkness.

30 days of thankfulness.

so much happens in life. so much bad stuff. or negative stuff. or unfair, or unjust, or violent stuff. natural disasters happen. sickness happens. pain & suffering happen. and lives are changed in an instant. all of these things that happen to us, at one time or another (and most likely multiple times), alter the direction of our lives. we are left feeling stunned, shocked, confused, angry, worried, scared.

because these things happen to us, and because we are inundated with the trials & tribulations of life, it is important to, when we have a moment of peace, or a day that goes well, or a feeling of happiness & contentedness, or an opportunity to enjoy a moment, that we do just that. as much as possible, we try enjoy life. we try to live in the present, and seek the good. we learn to be thankful and grateful for the things that we have, instead of dwelling on the things that we don’t have. we learn to appreciate all that is around us and in our lives, because we never know when we just might lose something… or everything, as many in the northeastern united states did just a few days ago.

with all that said, being thankful, being grateful, is my goal for november. perfect timing, huh? of course, as an american, it only makes sense, since november is the month when we celebrate thanksgiving. a few years ago (or more like 10-20), i think oprah talked about having a gratitude journal. well, i’m not gonna do that. at least not in the traditional way. i’m gonna have a photo journal – snapping shots of things i am grateful for every day. i think that it’s just time for me to acknowledge to myself all that i have to be thankful for. it’s time to focus on the positive things in life. and i am certain that, after spending 30 days thinking positively and focusing on all that i am grateful for, i will end november in a completely different place than i started.

join me in this photo challenge and/or follow me on instagram. i’m @lizslens.

so, as i write this, i have decided to begin my 30 days of thankfulness by saying thank you to the beautiful city in which i live. today, i honor you, norrköping… for your culture, your architecture, your diversity, people, your size, your artsy-ness, your coziness. i feel pretty damn lucky to get to live here.

i took all these pictures yesterday, when i decided to take a little walk after lunch. it was freezing cold out, but it didn’t matter. everywhere i looked, my spirits were lifted and i realized, once again, how blessed i am – for so many reasons. but for today, i acknowledge that i am so freaking thankful that i get to live here, in sweden, in europe. in the midst of all this old, amazing, unique, amazing-ness.

what’s at the top of your “i’m thankful for” list?

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at leastwe didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~Buddha

peace and love.

broken lives & blogging.

i have a good life. no. a great life.

sometimes i wonder, though, how everything appears from the perspective of my blog… let me reassure you, my life is great and amazing, but it is not without it’s troubles and heartache – past & present.

i’ve got a lot on my mind right now, a lot going on in my life that feels really heavy, even in the midst of all the happiness, excitement, & awesome-ness. it’s just that i have a deep belief in goodness, in light, in the possibility of transformation. and this is what i choose to focus on. i do not avoid these difficult things. on the contrary, i deal with them straight on. but, i do not lay it all out here for everyone to read. however, if you talk with me, i’m pretty much an open book. some call me the eternal optimist. others, the naive little girl. but, whatever. call me what you like. you see, i have had (and still have. and will have again) my share of pain, disappointment, fear, and brokenness; but instead of dwelling on the pain, i have learned how to understand that that pain, those moments that feel like the bottom, are simply the beginnings of something new. i learn something from everything i experience. and all of those experiences make me who i am today.

the hardest thing for me to deal with though, is the pain & brokenness that others feel in the world, whether i know them or not. the darkness and injustice that exists in the world, the closed-mindedness and violence… these things keep me awake at night sometimes. and i get overwhelmed. i wonder what the hell i can do to make a difference.

and then i remember, all of us are hurting. all of us are broken.

about 10 years ago i was working with a fellow minister in a church in north carolina, and we decided to have a weekly group that met to talk about john wesley, the founder & father of the methodist church. this man was a great man. someone who sought reform in the church of england, a place that had forgotten how to talk to the masses, how to be relevant, how to make a difference in society, and how to encourage the personal growth of its members. so, john wesley, set out on a horse and traveled around doing the unthinkable. preaching about grace & love to all people in the fields (unlawful according to the anglican church), setting up small groups as places where people could meet and share their fears, hopes, & dreams with each other, and calling each person to a life of holiness – something that he believed we all could attain – through personal spiritual development & love for society. his faith was a balance of personal & societal transformation. it focused on strengthening the inner life and building bridges & hope in the outer life.

in modern day terms, it is setting aside time for things like meditation, yoga, & support groups, and taking time to volunteer & give back.

as i studied this man 10 years ago, reading biographies and his personal journals/sermons, i came to understand just how much i am inspired by his methods, but how much i would not have really liked him as a person = i don’t think i’d want to hang out with him.

the legend of john wesley was crushed for me. i read many personal details, thoughts, and wonderings which humanized the legend for me. i discovered his faults (his obsessive methodology), his quirks, his fears, and his failures.

but, because i learned all of this, i grew to respect him even more. as a human being, not as a legend. and something clicked inside of me… this idea of brokenness as the thing that connects all humans to each other. we all experience it; but we also all try to hide it. why? why must we pretend that everything is perfect? why are we afraid to be vulnerable?

ok, back to my thoughts about making a difference. i used to think a lot about mother teresa. and i actually felt stress that i could never be as amazing as her. and then, i read some of her writings. did you realize that almost the whole time she was working & living with the poor in india she felt far away from God? this amazing woman, whom the world imagines was in communion with God at all times, was simply getting up every morning, going through the motions, and wondering where God was in the midst of all of the suffering she saw.

if mother teresa felt this way, then i am in good company.

and i am reminded by her words of what i need to do. and what i do not need to do. i do not need to save the world. i do not need to solve all the problems. i cannot do that. all, i need to do, because there is suffering all over this world, even in my city, even in my family… is love the people that i come in contact with every day – strangers, neighbors, friends, family. the way that you & i can make a difference, can make a dent in all of the shit in this world, is to use our tiny little lives, wherever we are.

yes. my life is amazing. yes. i have pain & suffering, even today, in my life. but much more than that, i have hope. i know there is hope. i know that this world was intended & created to be a place of beauty & joy, and that beauty & joy can still be found. so, perhaps my work in this world is to point out the beauty that i see, to share the joy that i feel, to meet people & listen to their stories, and to share my own stories of heartbreak & hope.

my friends, we are all connected, whether we admit it or not. i don’t want to live my life cut off from everyone. i want to seek out comfort from others & give comfort. i want to share life… to laugh, love, & cry together.

so, i guess my little blog here, is one of my attempts to connect. to connect with my inner self through writing & reflecting, a spiritual exercise. and to connect with the world by sharing those little moments of my life that bring me peace & joy with others. to share my fears, frustrations, and brokenness as well. i suppose i crave comments and other bloggers because i am given the gift of taking a peek into another’s life, perhaps finding a kindred spirit, and receiving inspiration to continue my journey.

for me, blogging has become a sacred ritual of my day. something that i cherish deeply. my attempt at balancing & achieving a holy life, in which john wesley believed… a life of inner reflection & connection with the divine, and a life that seeks to share and build community with others, sharing grace & love with all.

so, thank you to all you readers out there, to all you who comment & inspire me, and to all you fellow bloggers. thank you for reminding me every day that, even though there are dark times, there is always light, and life is truly amazing… especially when shared.

peace, even in our brokenness.

tragedy & beauty.

i could be angry. but i choose to channel that anger into passion. i could live in fear. but i choose to face my fears. i could feel overwhelmed and give up. but i choose to keep on going. i could just turn my head and live in my happy, little bubble. but i choose to be aware. i could focus on the evil, the violence, the pain. but i choose to focus on healing, reconciliation, and peace. i could pretend it didn’t happen. but i choose to acknowledge the pain and heal from it. i could stuff all my emotions down inside me. but i choose to find a way to talk about it. i could forget that it ever happened. but i choose to remember. i could hold a grudge and seek someone or some system to blame. but i choose to be a part of the solution, to educate, to move forward.

i could think that it won’t happen to me. but one never knows…

today marks the one year anniversary of the shootings at the youth camp and bombing in olso, norway where 77 people lost their lives. i remember the day last year, hearing the news of this act of terror, listening to the details unfold hour by hour. and then, the days that followed… hearing the stories of the victims, their stories of survival or the stories of their short lives as told by family members and friends.

it crazy to grow up in a time where i mark my life by acts of terror/tragedy (these are the ones that just popped into my head as i was writing).

  • 1986 the challenger space shuttle exploded
  • 1991 racial riots in my high school
  • 1995 oklahoma city bombing
  • 1999 columbine shootings
  • 2001 september 11 terrorist attacks in NYC
  • 2003 war in Iraq
  • 2011 norway massacre
  • 2012 aurora, colorado theater shootings

but, i guess i’m not the only one who can mark their life by tragedies, remembering where i was when this or that happened… my parents have this list, and then countless others to add: viet nam, civil rights protests/violence in the south, assassinations: martin luther king, jr. & president kennedy, the cold war, etc. and then, my grandparents: WWII, WWI, the great depression,etc.

of course, all i am mentioning here is from my tiny american perspective. i am greatly aware of (without knowing all the details & history, i admit) the fact that all of the countries/continents across the world have their own history, in addition to the history that we share. however, i can only speak from my experience, while acknowledging that everyone has their own experiences with tragedy and violence as well. many have much, much more first-hand experience of tragedy and violence than i.

i am painfully aware of the fact that there are horrible acts of terror and violence occurring daily in other parts of the world, of which i do not know the details. still, on a daily basis, details or not, i consciously try to think of all the people i will never meet who are suffering, who are frightened, who face bombs, guns, and abuse on a regular basis. i may not know them personally, but i know that they are my neighbors here in sweden, my neighbors in africa, my neighbors in the states, my neighbors in asia. they are my neighbors all around the world… and so many face the loss their lives or someone they love. yes, violence is everywhere. it touches everyone.

but, hang with me, friends.

the point of this blog post is first, for me to process my thoughts; and second, to remind myself & all of us what is most important. however in order to focus on what is most important, we have to be honest with ourselves. we have to open our eyes, we have to hear the cries, we have to see the pain and suffering, we have to listen to each other. we have to acknowledge what is happening in order to move forward. we have to open our minds and think. i agree, it’s not fun. it’s depressing. and it’s scary. but, i believe that we are in this together. we are not alone, and if we look honestly together at the state of our lives & our world, it  is perhaps not quite as overwhelming.

the thing is… we need each other.

i don’t have answers to solve the problems of war & violence. i don’t know how to stop acts of terror. but, i do know that how i live my life makes a difference. just think, though, if we all thought about how we lived our lives, faced our fears, worked together, sought, as a community, to heal each others’ pain, shared each others’ burdens, listened to each other, and lived life from a place of love instead of fear and exclusion, we could begin to make a big difference together. still, i am only responsible for myself, i know. but maybe part of my responsibility in my life is to talk with others, listen to others, be someone with whom others can process their thoughts and reflect on their own lives.

it’s the whole pebble in a lake theory. what one person does makes a little impact, but it spread out further and further.what if we were all making little impacts?

however, all the tragedies and violence in this world teach us something else too. it’s not just a reminder to try to make a better world, but to look at how beautiful & wonderful the world is already. yes. i said it. even in the midst of all the pain & suffering, there is beauty and joy. perhaps the most important thing that tragedies teach us is to live life! 

to soak up every moment. to greet each day and welcome all the possibilities it holds, to focus on moving forward, to reframe everything in the positive instead of the negative, to see problems as opportunities, to hear the music, to dance, to laugh until your stomach hurts, to enjoy good company & surround yourself with people who make you a better person, to close your eyes and breathe deeply, to face the sunshine, to believe in hope, to spread smiles and give hugs, to take risks and be adventurous, to dream big, to travel the world, to create art, to follow your bliss…

yes, i believe we must remember the victims, we must be aware of what’s happening in the world and in our own lives. we must be honest and face the dark times, because they are real. they are part of life. but, life is so beautiful as well. why not enjoy the beautiful moments when we have them? why not share that beauty with everyone we meet? why not work together to bring more & more beauty into the world?

thursday night, there was another act of violence & terror that occurred in aurora, colorado as people watched the midnight premiere of the newest batman movie. 12 people lost their lives and 59 people were wounded, many critically. *heavy sigh* yes, again. more violence. more death. more pain.

but, more opportunities to begin to talk again about how we can create a better world, without access to guns and bombs. and another opportunity for those of us left, to remember what is most important. to remember that the darkness exists, but the beauty of the world is brighter. as i always say, love wins.

i want to leave you with the words of one of the victims (jessica redfield) in the colorado shooting. no doubt many of you have heard of her on the news already… she survived a random shooting one month ago in canada, only to be killed in the shooting thursday night. chilling. but, her words are beautiful.

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

don’t we owe it to each other, to ourselves, to all victims of violence, to all who are suffering (even ourselves), to jessica… to make beautiful music with our lives, to live every second of every day as a gift?

breathe it all in, friends. love & hope. it’s all around you, even today.


sunshine & strawberries.

last night (as every night) i slept under the stars that hang on my headboard. i woke early to the sun streaming in the room and hugged my family before i rolled out of bed to make some coffee. (instagram challenge: where i slept)

one of the most lovely streets in norrköping.

yes. it smells as good as it looks.

today, like all other swedes everywhere, i bought strawberries for the midsummer celebration tomorrow. strawberries are a must during midsummer. and i successfully tasted (thanks to the cute middle-easter man selling them who offered me a chance to eat one after another.) and bought tons of yummy, fresh, swedish-grown strawberries. yep. i buy local.

this afternoon i spent some time on a blanket outside with my love. the weather was… how can i describe it best? p.e.r.f.e.c.t.

 the amazing blue sky made a perfect background for this little flower i picked.

 hippie love.

the sunset on the longest day of the year. 11:45 pm. crazy, huh?

you know, all of today was not sunshine and fresh strawberries. my life is real, filled with real pain & real problems. today, there were some very crappy, difficult moments. but, right now i sit watching the sun set on this first full day of summer. and as i sit here, the evening closing in around me, reflecting on my day and all the ups & downs, i realize once again the strength of loving someone. and of being loved.  my amazing love and i weathered this day together… the sunshine & the storms.

it’s true that there are many moments in many days that i’d love to skip over or erase, but i must remember that these are just moments. they will pass. and there is always some beauty surrounding even the bleakest, darkest, most painful & frustrating moments.

so, it may look like my life is perfect. that everything is, in fact, sunshine & strawberries. well, it’s not. it’s just that i try to practice mindfulness, being present in the moment. i soak in all the moments that come my way; but those dark & scary ones, i know that they do not last. i work very hard (and write in my personal journal) all of my thoughts, feelings, fears. sometimes i share them here. but, more than a place to write my every thought, this blog has become a place for me to renew myself and to offer inspiration & hope, for those are my most foundational beliefs. all of the pain exists, oh yeah. and i feel every little bit of it.  but, the love, the peace, the hope… they all exist too. but they do not only exist, they win.

hope you’ve had a beautiful first day of summer! get some vitamin d whenever you can. it’ll do you good!

peace, love, & strawberries.

here & now.

everybody keeps saying those words to my love & me.

focus on today. try to just be here. now. the problem is, i keep thinking about the past (fretting & dreaming) & wondering (worrying & dreaming) about the future. feeling overwhelmed & insecure? take it one day at a time. yeah. great advice. ain’t so easy to pull off though. but i’m trying. really trying.

i think i go to the past & the future in order to escape the not-so-pretty-present, whenever something uncomfortable pops up. but, i also think that i worry about what has happened and what will happen in an effort to control things. escapism and worry. two things that will suck the life right out of me. i know that. but, sometimes it’s just so hard. escapism & worry. a sure fire way to ignore the present situation, and therefore, miss out on little moments which may be beautiful ones. at the same time, perhaps escapism & worry serve as a tiny bit of a survival technique, when things are just too difficult to bear. the trick is the balance. i’m most definitely not saying that we should try to avoid feeling sad, depressed, afraid, worried, etc. our feelings are our feelings. it’s good to feel them. the balance comes when we feel them, but don’t dwell on them. don’t let them take over, so that we miss living in the present moment…  which may feel icky at the time, but we will survive.

many times the present is actually better than the past pain or the future worries. those things only bring us guilt & anxiety. focusing on the present allows us to breathe. to soak in the calmness & positive energy around us, whatever it may be. yes, the present is the place to be, the place to exist. the past & the future will always be there, tapping us on our shoulders, creeping up during our days. but, to hold fast to the moment we are in… therein lies our power. and our peace.

5 years ago i was in a weird, tough place. i had a lot of pain from a betrayal in the past that followed me around every day. but, i pushed away that pain, because it was too difficult to bear. instead, i chose to focus on the future. i kept dreaming of a future that was brighter. i lived for that future. i only thought about what was going to happen, and focused all my energy on what might come, how life could be. all the while, i was ignoring how life was. except for every now & then. every few months, then weeks, then days, i turned to a friend(s) and poured out my frustrations/fears/anger/confusion. deep inside i knew that something had to be done, but i was just too afraid; for deep inside, i also knew the outcome of facing the pain. i knew my marriage would end in divorce. so, i let off steam every now and then, facing the reality of the present. but, as soon as i let it out in a conversation with a friend, i went right back to living for the future. telling myself that everything would be better in a few months.

then one day, as i lamented my woes and frustrations to one particularly patient friend (love ya, mean it), he decided to say something. mostly he just listened to me rant & rave. but, on this day, he said something like this: “i’m tired of listening to you complain. i’m tired of seeing you in pain. stop talking about it and do something. you are living for this future that doesn’t even exist yet, and are afraid to look at what’s actually happening. open your eyes and see how life really is every day. notice that the only time you feel ok is when you think about the future and how it could be. you need to be honest and look at how it is now. today. do something.”

ouch. that was painful, but i wasn’t mad at all. i needed to hear that. i was ready to hear that. i needed a friend who loved me that much. because of him, and because i was ready, i did something. and, so began a year of soul-searching, reconnecting with myself, and rediscovering the power of living in the moment. my marriage ended. i decided to move to denmark. i followed my soul. i listened to my heart. i lived in the moment. and i fell in love.

now, 5 years later, i am reminded of the power of living here & now. it has become difficult for me to do that recently, but i learned my lesson years ago, so i will fight to stay in the present moment. i will soak it up. no matter what comes my way, i am not alone. i have found a great love with whom to share my life. and together, we will fight for this moment, to stay in the present moment, to live life. it’s not easy, but we have each other. and that makes all the difference.

to all you out there wondering at times, like me, how you will make it… i have some advice for us. slow down. close your eyes. breathe deep. feel your soul & know that, come what may, all will be well. all the pain serves as a lesson to make us who we are today. all of our dreams propel us to the future & keep us inspired. but, right now, even in the midst of chaos, if we take it one moment at a time, we will get through it.

sending you strength & peace.

day 14: grass.

today has been one of those days. and it’s really been one of those days for my love… it’s just that when she feels bad, so do i. you know how that goes, right? you just wanna protect and make everything right for the one you love, but you’re helpless. there’s nothing you can do. so, you feel bad too. or, a more positive way of looking at it, i guess, can be that you share the pain. still, even when you bear some of the pain, it doesn’t seem like it makes anything easier. ugh.

the grass this morning looked springy and nice. like the unwritten day was full of possibilities. but, nothing about today now feels sunny and green. the possibilities of the morning turned into major challenges as the day went on. i know that tomorrow is a new day, and i’m counting on the newness of the day, hoping that it brings with it some calm, peace, and relaxation instead of disappointment and heartbreak.

nothing has been easy about today. today has been mean, heartless, depressing, and tough. the thought of a quick reward, something to make me happy in the moment, or at least the super near future, is what i think i want. yeah. i think i don’t want challenges. i want the easy way out, right? but, then again, maybe not. to wait, to hold on, to know that in the end, holding out, fighting, believing, and staying focused will bring a much deeper joy gives me the strength to keep going & a desire to stick with it. we can’t always get what we want when we want it. or maybe we can. but, to scrounge up enough patience & courage to go through the pain, instead of around it… that brings true peace. real joy. deep happiness. and that is what i truly want.

so, tuesday. i believe that you will be better. i hope & pray that you will be better. for me & for my love. please… you just have to. becauseugh. monday. you have not been kind.

true. it will be worth it. it’s just so hard right now.

peace (calm in the midst of chaos).