on the last day of april it’s time to celebrate

there are so many fun traditions swirling around this time of year… we are halfway through spring and headed straight towards summer. and, here in sweden, that is serious business.

the last of april (sista april) is a day that takes all of that excitement about spring and life and warmth and growth and light, and calls for bbqs, bonfires, music, champagne, and outdoor fun, including letting animals out to pasture again. it is a day, especially in uppsala (where i live), where the celebration begins early in the morning on the last day of april and continues on into the first day of may, a national holiday in sweden.

but, why the last of april? where did this tradition come from?

ultimately, in the northern hemisphere, this is the time of year when mother earth opens up and brings new life all around. that’s the basis of this entire celebration. a pagan, hedonistic, ancient day of celebrating the desire to leave winter completely behind, including turning away evil spirits, and welcoming the warmth + light + new life of the spring and summer months.


 the other name for the last of april is valborg, which comes from the name of saint walpurga, a woman who left england to become a missionary nun in germany in the 700s. may 1st is her saints day. christians took the former pagan festival of the celebration of spring, and turned it into a celebration of st. walpurga.

however, valborg in sweden has very little to do with religion, and everything to do with the arrival of spring. and, this is not a private, family celebration like christmas or easter, mind you. no, this is a very, very public event. whole towns and cities gather together outside to celebrate as a community.

and the biggest community celebration is found in uppsala. lucky me! 

yes, the largest and most traditional valborg celebration is found right here where i live. the celebration begins early in the morning with a breakfast of champagne + strawberries, and ends late at night. in between, all day long, there are tons of traditions and thousands of people. it is estimated that about 10,000 extra visitors will make their way to uppsala on the last day of april to take part in this gigantic celebration of spring. that’s insane! basically, it’s gonna be wall to wall people all over the city, especially in parks. on blankets. having bbqs and drinking massive amounts of alcohol. the city has even ordered 62,400 bottles of water – encouraging everyone to drink a bottle of water in-between drinks. serious business, huh?

this year also marks the 40th anniversary of a rafting competition in the river that runs through the middle of the city. the rafts have to be handmade, therefore they are rickety, funny, and quite easily torn apart, i imagine. i’ve never seen the rafting race, so i hope to make it down there this year!

there are free concerts, with choirs singing very traditional spring songs, a speech by the university’s president from the balcony of the library (where thousands of people gather), and a champagne run. later in the evening, outside of the city there are big bonfires and more songs.

so, the whole day is just one, big, crazy celebration. 

i am most definitely looking forward to celebrating my 2nd valborg in uppsala, my 4th in sweden. the last time i was in uppsala, i was deathly ill with some sort of stomach virus, so i missed out on most everything. i stayed curled up in the fetal position with a bucket beside my bed in the guest room at lina’s brother’s apartment. from my little cot, i listened to everyone in the living room, partying and having fun. poor me, right?


but, this year, i’m all ready!

we’ve got our champagne and wine chilling, our grill + picnic blanket all ready, and we can’t wait to celebrate the magical, life-giving, beautiful spring + summer in sweden. now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed (and hold our thumbs) for good weather tomorrow!

have a great (and safe) last day of april! and, join in the celebrations wherever you are – celebrate spring or autumn. either way, the seasons are moving forward, and the amazing cycle of life continues. how freaking awesome is it that we get to be a part of that?

i’ll check back in over the weekend + share some photos. after recovering from the celebrations, of course. wink. wink.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

march playlist

40 | march 2015 // a playlist created for wanderers + dedicated to angela

as i sit at the kitchen table, blogging this morning, sipping on coffee brewed from our brand new, very own coffee maker (more on that in another post!), the wind is whipping like a madman outside. typical march weather. because, yes, guys, it’s march. al-freaking-ready! that means that spring is on its way for those of us in the northern hemisphere. wooooo! of course, it’ll be about 2 more months before any warm weather settles in, but in the meantime, birds will be chirping, flowers will begin blooming, and vivid colors will be returning, taking the place of the cold, but beautiful, nordic shades of blues, whites, and grays.

now that it’s a new month, it’s also time for a new playlist – part of my year-long celebration of turning 40 last septemeber. since then, i’ve made a playlist for every single month. turns out, it has been an amazing little project, which has brought tons of new music into my life. (you can find all of the links to the playlists at the end of this post).

for march, i knew that i wanted to do something about wandering. not because i feel like i am wandering so much. in fact, for me, it is the exact opposite, i am in the process of beginning to settle somewhat. still, i knew that having songs that bring about a sense of calm + peace, in the midst of wandering – which is what we are all doing in some ways as we journey through life – would be exactly the perfect theme. i am sure that it also has to do with my own personal celebration of lent (to read more about my take on lent this year, click –> here).

in any case, i wanted to capture a sense of wandering calmly, with a sense of trust + peace. a low anxiety, low stress, playlist that reminds us that we are all ok, or that we will be ok,  even without knowing the exact destinations of our journeys. a reminder that is reflected in nature’s journey at this time of year, the journey from winter to spring.

march playlist

i was already at work on this playlist when i received a message from an IG friend – a follower who i have never met. she said that she loved my playlists, and asked me if i could make one for her because she is facing surgery tomorrow (march 2). she went on to tell me that she wanted something calming + peaceful. i told her about my work on march’s playlist, and then said that i would keep her in mind as i completed it. in the end, her request was the perfect (and completely humbling) thing to spark my creativity – she became my muse.

but, as i thought about her, i also thought about many others as well. i thought about all of us. i reflected on the fact that we all need a little space, a little peace and calm to remind us to keep on going. to keep on wandering, even though the desert seems scary and the path is unknown. even though the mountains are high, the valleys are low, and everything in between seems confusing, empty, or overwhelming.

so, for march, as the winds blow, bringing about the change of the seasons, i hope that this playlist blows through you, reminding you that even in the midst of the storm, even in the middle of the desert, and even when our wandering seems pointless or we fear that we are lost… there is peace. there is hope. and life continues to renew itself.

soak up the music. let it fill your soul. if you’d like, choose one song a day (i usually shuffle the playlist, so i have no idea what the song of the day might be), and close your eyes + let that song inspire you all day long. of course, listen to the entire playlist all day, every day if you wish. but, if you’d like to have something to focus on, let the first song of the day that you listen to be your muse for that day. and if you want to take it a step further, use the title and the song as inspiration for a photo of the day. snap it + share it on instagram or Facebook. let the march playlist help you chronicle your journey through the art of music + photos.


ok. here’s a summary of my suggestions for how you might want to use march’s playlist (use them all or only one) to let your creativity flow.

// click on the photo or the link (both above) to be taken to spotify, where you can then follow the playlist.

// start each day by hitting shuffle on the playlist or follow the playlist in the order that it is listed below (song # 1 for march 1st, for example). let the first song you hear (whether shuffling or following the numbered order) be your “song of the day” to inspire you + be your focus for the day.

// follow the playlist in the order that is is listed below (or use the shuffle idea from above) and take a photo of the day. post it on instagram and/or Facebook.

| artists first, song titles second |

1. Trampled By Turtles – Alone
2. Laleh – Better Life
3. Uzo Aduba, Godspell Ensemble – By My Side
4. Bifrost Arts – Come O Spirit! (feat. Aimee Wilson)
5. Matthew And The Atlas – Come Out Of The Woods
6. Sarah Jarosz – Dark Road
7. Butterfly Boucher – Drift On
8. The Civil Wars – Dust to Dust
9. Bearfoot – Feel Free
10. Joshua Meltzer – Gypsy Moon
11. Joan Osborne – Holy Waters
12. Bifrost Arts – Kyrie (feat. Shara Worden, Sarah Fullen and Megan Rederick)
13. Dixie Chicks – Landslide
14. Shovels & Rope – Lay Low
15. Aoife O’Donovan – Lay My Burden Down
16. Wilhelm Brothers – Lay Your Burden Down
17. The Head And The Heart – Let’s Be Still
18. Sarah Jarosz – Long Journey
19. Snatam Kaur – Long Time Sun
20. Tina and Her Pony – Medicine
21. Horse Feathers – Middle Testament
22. The Lumineers – Morning Song
23. Sarah Jarosz – Peace
24. Iona – Prayer on the Mountain
25. The Milk Carton Kids – Promised Land
26. Nickel Creek – Reasons Why
27. Gregory Alan Isakov – Second Chances
28. Pierre Bensusan – Silent Passenger
29. The Avett Brothers – Souls Like The Wheels
30. Joy Kills Sorrow – Spring
31. The Head And The Heart – Springtime
32. The Farewell Drifters – Starting Over
33. Sara Watkins – Take Up Your Spade
34. Gregory Alan Isakov – The Universe
35. The Milk Carton Kids – There By Your Side
36. Horse Feathers – Thistled Spring
37. The Secret Sisters – Tomorrow Will Be Kinder – from The Hunger Games Soundtrack
38. The Greencards – Traveler’s Song
39. Laleh – Vårens första dag (Spring’s First Day)
40. Horse Feathers – What We Become


happy listening, lovely people. and happy march!! onwards + upwards! xoxo


previous playlists: february 2015 | january 2015 | december 2014 | november 2014 | october 2014 | september 2014


the freedom of letting go

// I stood still, looking up at this tree the other morning, watching the leaves fall + take flight. They just let go… accepting that this season of their life was done. They flew one after another, floating gently wherever the wind took them, some even landing on my shoulder or my head. Their willingness inspired me.

// I suppose I have a lot to learn from a tree. Acceptance, flexibility, willingness, gentleness.

// As I set my intentions for this next season in my life, it is also necessary for me, like this great tree above, to let go of control + to trust that the universe will guide me. It always does. And it is always amazing.

// So, today, I release my dreams out into the Universe once again + embrace the belief that, come what may, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Just let go…

light + love, my friends. xx

darkness has come

darkness has arrived. halloween has been celebrated with all of its ghostly and ghoulishly fun. all saint’s day, the day we remember + celebrate the dead, has passed as well. and for us in the states, we have changed to winter time (no more daylight savings time), so the sun set today so very early. darkness has literally arrived. and it feels heavy, yet cozy.

you know, this all hallows time (halloween and hallows/saints day) was actually a festival time back in the day. the celtic festival, known as samhain, celebrated the dead halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. it was a time when winter preparations began for farmers, bringing their livestock in from the pastures. fires were lit, offerings of food and drink were left to the gods, asking for survival through the winter, and feasts were had, inviting the souls of the dead to draw near. people even dressed in costumes, going from door to door, reciting verses in exchange for food to be used at the feast. it was seen as a day that the spirit world was closer to the living world, thus the invitation for the souls of those who have gone before to come and feast with the living.

in my opinion, there is nothing dark and demon-y about this. it is simply recognizing the cycle of life, as seen in nature + in our own lives. november is a month that feels like the very end of life. it feels like death. it even looks like death in the northern hemisphere. just look around and notice what happens to the earth as the month progress. it grows darker, the plants and trees die. animals hibernate. we all move inside.

all saint’s day was introduced by christians in the year 609, but was originally celebrated on may 13. a few hundred years later it was officially switched to november 1, influenced by and merging with the celtic samhain holiday. offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made in some countries. in sweden family members visit the graves of loved ones, taking candles and gifts to lay by the tombstones. when i lived there, i remember how silently beautiful it was. it was an overwhelming feeling of reverence – and i felt that the souls were closer to us. but, perhaps it was just me, being aware of them – that the souls are nearby all the time, but we never stop to really reflect on their presence. 

photo from here

photo from here

in the christian church in the states the only thing that is done is that a list of names of all of those who have died in the past year is read in the middle of the service. touching and sweet, but i definitely prefer the swedish way of actively being involved in remembering and giving thanks.

with that in mind, lina and i celebrated in our own way at home for all saint’s days/samhain. we lit a single candle and let it burn all day long, in remembrance of our loved ones. then, we picked up paige and headed to a historical cemetery in asheville. it was snowy, cold, misty, and windy. the air was damp and raw, but we walked a bit, lighting tea lights and leaving them on the grave of thomas wolfe, a famous american author from asheville who is buried there. it was our way of mingling with and showing respect for the souls of those who have gone before – and it reminded me of my one precious life that i have…

candle all saints day

all saints day riverview cemetery

all saints day riverview cemetery

all saints day riverview cemetery

i know it sounds depressing, but it is simply a reminder of who we are. a reminder that life is short and fleeting, and that we miss the people who have already left this world.

but, my friends, i truly believe that we must reflect on these things to help us gain perspective, to inspire us, and to ultimately transform us. it may be tough, but i believe that taking the time to ponder these things, together + alone, make us better people. it helps us to embrace the life that we have and live in the present moment.

so, whether you call it samhain or all saint’s day, the hallows festival is a beautiful time to dress up and enjoy the fun + craziness of halloween, while knowing that the tradition came from a festival of respecting death – both of the season of summer, and of the death of people we have loved. it is also a beautiful time take a slow, deep breath and light a candle. a time to be inspired to hold on + move forward. to grab on to the life that pulses through our veins and the breath that sustains us, inspiring us to make something of the life that we have been given.

all saints day riverview cemetery

what will you do with your life?

sending you light + love… even in the darkness, my dear ones.

the adventures of a girl in love with autumn

so, autumn is in full swing here in asheville, north carolina and it just could not be more cozy and beautiful. october is absolutely a stunning month up here in the mountains. but, i’m telling you, this is only the beginning. the beauty, the coziness, the autumn amazingness will only grow more + more.

here’s an example: right now, as i type this, i have candles lit in my living room. a blanket on my feet. a glass or red wine by my side. halloween lights glowing outside my door on the balcony. the debate for north carolina’s next senator on tv (we vote in just 4 weeks – and it will be a big one). and tons of photos to share with you in this post.

yes, i am enjoying a very low key, relaxed night after about 2 glorious weeks of adventure, fun, and  friends. i gotta get my balance on, you know. so, here are bunches of snaps from the past 2 weeks – snaps of food, drinks, nature, laughs – of sharing life with one another. and, just as a bonus, they include lina’s high school friend from sweden who came to visit us for 10 days. take a peek!

happy october!

IMG_8055 IMG_8074

dinners and beer out on the town – gotta share the avl secrets w/ our swedish friend!
IMG_8081 IMG_8086 IMG_8115 IMG_8116 IMG_8132

vintage store obsessions

ah-freaking-mazing moments: 7:30 am yoga class + midday mountain ride + $2.50 cans of beer and slices of pizza.

IMG_8143 IMG_8177 IMG_8194

a huge fika group (20 were there!) and then some alone time at my “secret” hiding spot
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pub crawl. i mean, we’ve got 15 micro-breweries in asheville. what else to do?!IMG_8258 IMG_8260 IMG_8266

a small mountain town visit + railroad tracks + true bluegrass + the best burger ever at a lonesome country barIMG_8283 IMG_8292 IMG_8294

live music + another brewery + asheville’s drum circle (there is nothing quite like the downtown drum circle. anywhere. ever)IMG_8305 IMG_8310 IMG_8331 IMG_8334

biltmore estate + wine tasting IMG_8338 IMG_8344 IMG_8361 IMG_8364

the first frost + golden sun + the blue ridge parkwayIMG_8391 IMG_8398 IMG_8399 IMG_8405 IMG_8407 IMG_8429 IMG_8437 IMG_8452 IMG_8458 IMG_8467 IMG_8475

a celebratory last night out with our swedish friend (she left this morning)IMG_8511 IMG_8520 IMG_8524

dedication: 7:30 am yoga class – even though it was dark + rainy when i left home

autumn peaceIMG_8541

you see? i told you it was a lot. hehe. i sure do hope that your autumn/spring has gotten off to a beautiful start. sending you lots of peace and happiness.

love + light. xx

welcome back, dear autumn.

tonight is special. it is the autumn equinox. or in other words, fall begins tonight in the northern hemisphere. and i just love fall. but, before i get all wrapped up in the coziness and beauty of autumn, i want to pause today to let the equinox energy do its thing.

what i’m talking about is the fact that with the autumn equinox, nature is in balance. from the beginning of summer until today, the days have been longer than the night. after today, the reverse is true. the nights become longer. and the season of darkness creeps in.

for tonight, however, the light and the dark are equal. everything is in balance.

and this can mean a lot to our lives symbolically, if we take pause. as it is the middle of the harvest season, it is a time for celebration of all of the gifts of life. it is a perfect time to take stock and reflect on what has happened so far in life. it is a perfect time to be aware of the abundance we have received this year, not only in food, but in everything that we have experienced. and it is a time to plan and prepare what is needed for the next season in our lives. we can spend some moments, if we choose, on this autumn equinox night putting our lives in balance – focusing on remembering all that we have been given and preparing to let the season of darkness and coziness inspire us to go even further than we have in the past. it’s a time to finish up our old projects and begin to plant seeds for new ones. it is a time to celebrate and balance our life.

trees fall

so, i decided to spend some time, on this absolutely gorgeous day in the north carolina mountains, by myself. thinking, reflecting, and enjoying nature.

i headed over to a bar that is kind of like a park. grabbed my camp chair out of my car, ordered a pint of beer, and went to sit by the river. i let the sun warm my face, the water and the trees inspire me, and the blue sky fill me with awe and gratitude. i did a few things i love: i took some photos, wrote a little in my journal, and meditated a bit. i only spent about 45 minutes there, but it was the perfect little break in my day – and the perfect opportunity to welcome this next season in the cycle of life.
the bywater the bywater the bywater the bywater the bywater the by water french broad river the by water french broad river

at home, i gathered some candles, got a pumpkin, and made a dinner from fresh, local veggies. i am in the midst of creating a cozy, warm space for the coming dark, chilly nights.

every time this season rolls around, i am always ready for it. i am ready for sweaters and boots and scarves. ready for deep blue skies and nights that nip at your nose. i can’t wait to slide on some fingerless gloves and wear beanie caps. i love lighting candles all over my home, and making chili + soup. and the leaves, of course the leaves on the trees in the mountains. it’s a breathtaking, beautiful, restful time of year.

pumpkin ego self autumn vegetables

i hope that you will take some time over the next few days to let autumn (or spring if you are in the southern hemisphere) sink into your bones. i hope that you will find some peace and quiet, and feel the balance of the earth as nature moves on, reminding us that our lives move on too. and it’s time, my friends, time to let the summer (or winter) go – time to begin to move indoors and begin to let the long, sometimes difficult, but always amazing season of autumn (spring) inspire us.

peace + love.

40 | a playlist + photo challenge for september

happy september, all you lovelies out there! i love this month. i love how it is a transition month, moving us from the last long days of summer, to the colorful, cozy days of autumn (or vice-verse, if you live in the southern hemisphere. you know what i mean… winter to spring). this september is extra special to me. and here is your warning: you may be annoyed by me by the end of the month.

you see, i am turning 40 this month! and i am super excited. not scared, not upset, not anything, but joyful and grateful – and in the mood to celebrate all 30 days (and 10 more days into october. hehe.). it feels like this is a high milestone, bigger than the ones of the past. 16, 18, 21, 25, 30. they were all big, of course. rites of passage and such. but, this seems monumental. like a huge shift. and, while that may be scary for some, it feels exciting and overwhelming (in an amazing way).

therefore, i want to celebrate. all. month. long. poor lina. poor you, too, dear readers.

i want to celebrate that feeling of coming into my own. and the knowledge that it just just better (even if it gets worse or difficult). it’s always a journey of transformation and growth. ever-moving forward. never backward. always up higher and much deeper. and i welcome that. i cherish that.

september playlist

click on the photo above to be redirected to the playlist on spotify.

so, here’s what i’ve done. i’ve decided to make a playlist on spotify. yay! something that incorporates lots of new songs, but with a definite “liz” feel to them all. i found them mostly all on the radio – listening to a local, independent, channel that plays things that are as far away from top 40 music as possible. then, i just put them all together. all 40 of them (40 on purpose, you know. wink, wink.). i also decided that for the next year, until my next birthday, i will create a playlist every month – and i am super duper looking forward to capturing my 40th year in music!

click on the title or the photo above to go to spotify and follow the playlist (40 | september.14).

i’d love to share music with you for the month. if you have any suggestions for october’s playlist, i’m already beginning to assemble songs and ideas. just leave a comment and let me know!

i also did something else. i created a photo challenge for the month! i haven’t created a challenge since may (i think). it was so great to have a break, after about 3 years of photo challenges. and i ended up taking three months off. but, belovelive photo journeys are back starting today!

now, i’ve been racking my brain trying to some up with some kind of theme for weeks. knowing that i wanted to do this. but, nothing came to mind. at. all. until yesterday.

since i had this playlist, and it was something that i was going to use to set the tone/vibe for my september, i decided not to spread myself too thin, but to make my photo challenge based no the playlist. so, this month, we’ve got a music-inspired photo journey – and i am so excited!

i looked at my playlist and hit the “time” button to arrange the songs by time (that way they are also shuffled around a bit). and i went from there creating my photo challenge. so, all 40 songs are there. arranged from the shortest to the longest. and it just so happened that “setting forth” by eddie vedder is the first song! how crazy is that. talk about the universe lining up. hehe.

so, i simply used the titles as the word prompts for the day. now, this may be challenging, or irrelevant, or confusing for all of us. but, i thought, that if we are confused, we can simply listen to (or google!) the lyrics and see if the lyrics or music inspire us in anyway. that should help us decide how to photo something in our every day. this means that we all have bunches of creative freedom with our photos. so, just let the song of the day speak to you, and see what you want to snap for your photo. no pressure. just enjoy. and maybe, you’ll find a new song or two that you love. (remember, most of the songs are new for me too).

so, let’s get out there and take some photos! remember, to use the has tags #bllphotoaday and #mymonthofmusic if you are sharing your photos on instagram or Facebook or twitter. i would loooove to see what you come up with!!

september photo journey

| i have also included a list here of all of the artists and their songs, so you can search for them online, if you would like. just in case you don’t have spotify. they are arranged in the same order as the photo challenge. here, i’ve listed the artist first and then the title of the song. here you go! |

Eddie Vedder – Setting Forth
Leftover Salmon – Liza
Fred Perry – Our Day Will Come – Mashup Remix
Jason Isbell – Stockholm
Lucero – A Dangerous Thing
Tracy Grammer – Gentle Arms Of Eden
Pina – I Loved The Way
Mandolin Orange – Birds of a Feather
The Milk Carton Kids – Hope Of A Lifetime
The Wailin’ Jennys – One Voice
Leftover Salmon – Stop All Your Worrying
Chris Knight – House and 90 Acres
Frazey Ford – September Fields
Of Monsters And Men – Mountain Sound
Gregory Alan Isakov – That Moon Song
First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining
Sarah Jarosz – Build Me Up From Bones
Holly Williams – Drinkin’
Eddie Vedder – Society
Agnes Obel – Brother Sparrow
Keira Knightley – Lost Stars
Shovels & Rope – The Devil Is All Around
Shovels & Rope – Lay Low
The Gabe Dixon Band – All Will Be Well
Leftover Salmon – Mountian Top
Mandolin Orange – There Was A Time
Holy Ghost Tent Revival – Right State of Mind
Trampled By Turtles – Alone
The Milk Carton Kids – Years Gone By
Passenger – Life’s for the Living
The Honeycutters – Fancy Car
Ben Fields – Extraordinary Light
Lou Reed – Beginning Of A Great Adventure
The Head And The Heart – Down in the Valley
Pierce Edens – Montana
Pierce Edens – Wayfaring Stranger
Ben Howard – Old Pine
Lera Lynn – Out to Sea
Trampled By Turtles – Wild Animals
Gregory Alan Isakov – The Stable Song

peace, love, & music. xoxo

manifesting your dreams: my summer solstice celebration

as you may have figured out, if you have been reading my blog for a while, i love certain times of the year that lend themselves to reflection and renewal: times like the new calendar year, anniversaries, birthdays, certain religious/spiritual holidays (lent) and changes of the season.

with the changes of the seasons, there is often a celebration of the solstice – especially during the winter & summer solstice. there is so much symbolism within these seasons and the cycles of life that they represent. in the winter, we are surrounded by darkness, but it is a cold and a darkness that down not overcome us – as the holiday evergreen trees remind us. and, in the summer, as the days become lighter and brighter, and we soak up the rays of the sun on the longest day of the year, we celebrate life once again – and use the light to reenergize us and motivate us to keep on keeping on.

so, since we are celebrating the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, and since we’re all filled with the joy and energy of the sun today, i figured it’d be a great time, a halfway mark, to revisit my goals for 2014 and gather all of the energy and inspiration i can from this beautiful, life-filled season that i need to push myself forward to keep working on making my dreams come true in the second half of 2014.


my word for 2014 is paradise: i decided that throughout this year, I wanted to focus on  learning how to create my own paradise – to live the life that i feel called to live. to follow my heart, my soul, and my dreams – and to make things happen.

what follows below is a list of the words that i identified and i dreamed up at the beginning of 2014 words that, i believed, would help me create my paradise – the life that i wish to lead. so, let’s see how i’m doing so far. have i been creating my own paradise? is paradise still even a relevant word for me for 2014?


  • what i’ve done: on random days, i have found myself just heading up some mountain road nearby; not for some extended period of nature activities, but for little drives and stops close to where i live. it’s so easy to access the high mountains here, and just going for a 20 minute drive with a moment to stop and breathe and look out, renews my soul a bit. i’ve also visited some parks to walk or just spend some time, and walked around in the urban places of asheville as well. i suppose it’s been about fitting in little increments of time in nature within my daily life – still, i crave more.
  • what i want to do: camping. enough said. so, for the last half of 2014, i will find some time to go camping and spend some extended time in nature – off the grid. period.



  • what i’ve done: i participated in a mediation series, which i did at home on my gorgeous meditation pillow (a favorite gift from my love last year). i’ve also worn my jape mala beads, which actually have served as a reminder – every time i look down at them or feel them – to breathe, focus, and be present in the moment. i’ve also let go of a lot of guilt i have had about not being connected to any christian church at the moment – that’s just not where i am right now, and my love and i have talked about that a lot. she’s been such a great support as i continue to seek freedom and connection in my spiritual life. i have found a lot of freedom in making personal time important and rediscovering spiritual rituals and disciplines that i have always loved. as for community, my fika group that meets every wednesday, has been an endless sours of inspiration, challenging me, offering me different opinions, and giving me a chance to use my spiritual gifts.
  • what i want to do: yoga. like on a regular basis. a class. i will create that time and make it a priority. the end. (or the beginning… hehe).



  • what i have done: well, i did this with my love. we created the perfect balcony setting. it is a magical place – morning, noon, and night. but, especially at night. with candles flickering, cozy lights hung around, friends that gather to sit and chat, comfy seating, some green plants. it’s just been the perfect spot. in fact, i’m enjoying its magic right now as i type this.
  • what i want to do: more of the same. more lights. more candles. more native american influences. more buddhas. more fireflies. amen.

spring balcony magic


  • what i’ve done: i’ve read a lot. simply cozied up somewhere, and read. and i’ve taken photos – a lot of photos – of random, ordinary things. i’ve also experimented with making my photos more minimalist. we changed our bedroom around, stripped it down and made it very simple – the best place to have a lie in, or a cozy evening watching netflix with twinkling lights over our head. i’ve listened and loved the hear people jump in the pool – the *splash* sounds like life. and no tv. i’ve cut way back on turning on the tube just to have sound. i’ve let silence flow into my life – and it has been so sweet.
  • what i want to do: i’m canceling my cable subscription and going all netflix. no more tv in this home. there’s too much other amazing stuff to experience in life. also, i want to cook more – but, that goes with the next word…



  • what i’ve done: i’ve worked out… some. not much, and definitely not enough. i have also cut out most drinks (minus coffee, beer, and wine – as i am sure you can tell) from my life that are not water or juice. yes, i still have the occasional coca cola, but, if you new me before, you’d know that i practically had an iv of coca cola in my arm. i don’t even miss it much now. woo hoo!
  • what i want to do: cook more and eat better – much. much more fresh food. i want to make the farmer’s market a weekly destination to stock up on local fruits and veggies, and eat what’s in season, in that season. of course, i want to work out and move around more – i need to. plus, that will boost my energy level even more. so, exercise and yoga. boooyah.

tacos food


  • what i’ve done: we’ve had tons of visitors in asheville during the first half of the year, and it has been amazing. i’ve wandered in these mountains, showing off the best that the asheville area has to offer, visiting old favorite places and a few new. i’ve also been to new york city for a week – which was incredible! and all i did there was wander. it was like an urban heaven.
  • what i want to do: i’ve got more travel planned – much more! the beach with my family next week – an old, familiar, nostalgic trip i love. then, sweden in a week!! for a whole month! later on the year, we may be headed back to nyc to do some photos/videoing for some of our friends who are getting married – on my birthday! and, maybe new orleans sometime in october. oh yeah.

financial district nyc


  • what i’ve done: i have made significant progress on getting things together to write my fika book – i have a basic manuscript, which needs lots of editing! but, i’m on my way. i relaunched my fika blog (the fika girl) and it feels so right. as far as it goes with my love and i, what can i say? i fall in love more and more every single day. she is amazing – and simply sharing everyday moments with her just takes my breath away.
  • what i want to do: publish that fika book! i will get at least an e-book out by the end of the year. i will! and i want to be well on my way with the print version. i also want to keep balancing my passion for my love and our crazy life always making sure that she knows that the is the most important thing in my life. she makes everything possible, and all of life more beautiful.

journal moleskin

so far in 2014, i have been creating an atmosphere, visioning and manifesting a life that is beautiful and calm and meaningful – one that i truly love. a life where i have learned to soak up the moments.

now, that i have created this sacred space in my everyday, ordinary life, it’s time to work. the inspiration is all there. the beauty and love and magic are all there. it’s time to put it all to use. in other words, it’s time to make shit happen.

here’s to celebrating the energy of the sun today, to the moments of closing our eyes and letting that energy fill us, so that it sustains us throughout the rest of the year – a year filled with love and happiness – a year that includes reaching for the stars and making dreams come true. a year of creating our paradise.

happy solstice! peace & love. xx

celebrating summer

this weekend is the first day of summer for those of us in the northern hemisphere. *doing a little happy dance* the longest day of the year is upon us – a day filled with light (and hopefully sunshine!). a day where we celebrate the joy of the warmth, glow, and life that the sun brings us. it’s the kick-off of the season of relaxation, joy, free-spiritedness, laziness, and slowing down. i love this season, and everything that goes with it – especially the chance to be outside and enjoy moment after moment with friends and family. we throw caution to the wind, act just a little bit crazier and bolder, and remember the importance to balance our lives. for just a little while, we may set aside our schedules and routines to participate in the act of just being and living.

almost all of the past 4 or 5 years i have spent in sweden during the summer soltise, otherwise known as midsummer. i’ve spent the day celebrating a traditional midsummer celebration with traditional midsummer activities filling our day, such as gathering flowers, making crowns from those flowers, dancing and singing around the midsummer pole, eating strawberries, and staying up as late as the sun = practically all night because the sun doesn’t really set before it begins to rise again.

i’m going to miss those celebrations this year. but, we will be celebrating in the best american way that i know possible – for this first weekend of summer, my family (most of us) will gather at atlantic beach for our annual reynolds family beach week! it’s a crazy, hilarious, relaxing week filled with sun, sand, and surf. all we do is eat, drink, swim, chat, sit, sip, and laugh – a lot. so, if i can’t be in sweden celebrating midsummer, then arriving at the beach to celebrate and begin our 30th year of the reynolds family beach week is exactly how i want to spend the weekend.

in honor of the sun, at some point in the next few days, i will turn my face toward the big, golden ball in the sky and offer up my own prayers of praise and thanksgiving. i will soak up all of that energy and light, and harness it, using it to continue to work to make my dreams come true. on the first day of summer i will pause to reflect on the beauty and amazingness that the light brings to our life. and i will laugh, and dance, and love.

my summer gift to you is this little collection of photos from my american & swedish summers past, and a few favorite summer quotes to go along. slow down, read them, and receive these summer vibes – from me to you!

lina ocean


my love on a bike

“I fell for her in summer, my lovely summer girl,
From summer she is made, my lovely summer girl,
I’d love to spend a winter with my lovely summer girl,
But I’m never warm enough for my lovely summer girl,
It’s summer when she smiles, I’m laughing like a child,
It’s the summer of our lives; we’ll contain it for a while
She holds the heat, the breeze of summer in the circle of her hand
I’d be happy with this summer if it’s all we ever had.”
― Maggie StiefvaterShiver



ego me tree hugger

“summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
― Deb CalettiHoney, Baby, Sweetheart

relaxing washington square park


“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John LubbockThe Use Of Life


“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

flowers summer


“Sweet, sweet burn of sun and summer wind, and you my friend, my new fun thing, my summer fling.”
― k.d. lang

wedge beer outside summer


“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
― John KeatsBright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne

midsummer pole dance

beach family

“Summer afternoon – to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
― Henry James

rooftop empire NYC

central park nyc

“New York is strange in the summer. Life goes on as usual but it’s not, it’s like everyone is just pretending, as if everyone has been cast as the star in a movie about their life, so they’re one step removed from it. And then in September it all gets normal again.”
― Peter CameronSomeday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

happy summer! soak it up! xx

whoa! it’s december already!

click on the photo to watch my november photos fly by... hehe.

click on the photo to watch my november photos fly by… hehe.

i think this month snuck up on me. i was totally not prepared. like, not at all. first of all, november flew by like nothing i’ve ever experienced before. it felt as if it was only a week long. i mean, i have absolutely no idea where the time went or what i did. but, there’s no time to focus on that now…

it’s december! in fact, today it is already late at night on the 2nd of december. i need things to slow down. i don’t want to miss out on savoring the moments that come. i want to live in the present, and be aware and mindful of all that is going on. but, more than anything, i don’t want december to go by in a flurry of activities and miss the meaningfulness of this season – religious, natural, or otherwise . i want to embrace and feel all of december’s days and rituals and traditions.


but, that’s what’s good about photo journeys, i think. if nothing else, i slow just enough during the day to intentionally take a photo that means something, that represents something. when i make the photo journeys, i also think very long and hard about the season, the month, and all of the cyclical things that will be happening during the month – and i try to keep in mind all my buddies in the southern hemisphere as well. i try really hard to use the happenings of the year in the themes and sub themes of the photo journeys…

so, with that in mind, i decided that december’s theme would be “the gifts of the season”. it is my intentional way of finding space and time every single day to slow down just enough to be aware of one of the gifts that this season gives us. this december, i decided to focus on 5 different sub themes (or gifts):

1. the gift of preparation (dec. 1-7) – if you are religious, then this first week’s sub theme has everything to do with the season of advent in the christian calendar. a season much like lent (before easter), one of preparation for the celebration that is to follow. a time to look inward, to listen, to look, to be watchful and aware. a time to consider who we are, what we hope for, and how we live out that hope in our lives. if you are not religious, no problem. it is still a season of preparation: preparing for the holidays and the end of a year. it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, so preparing ourselves and slowing down and being mindful is something we all need, especially as the year comes to a close.

2. the gift of symbols (dec. 8-14)  – there are symbols everywhere you look throughout december. from stars to lights to trees to noises. we often don’t think of the meanings behind all of the symbols, but there are very deep, powerful meanings behind them all. this december, i hope that we all stop to consider those meanings when we take a photo of some of those symbols during the second week… if you don’t know the meaning of the symbol for the day, then i will be sure to write about it on my instagram photo, so you can find out there. or, you can just leave a comment here & ask me. :)

3. the gift of continuity (dec. 15-21) – during december, the third week of it to be exact, we change seasons in the northern hemisphere… from autumn to winter. we are faced with the longest day of the year, the darkest time of the year, as the sun is the farthest away from us. however, once the winter solstice is past, the days begin getting longer every day from december 22 to june 22 (the longest day of the year/summer solstice). this change of seasons, these yearly cycles, teach so so very much about life and death, hope and promise, even in the midst of darkness and suffering. it is a very symbolic time of the year, theologically and naturally. then again, i’m the girl who believes that nature teaches us about spirituality, and spirituality teaches us about nature. or, to put it another way, all of life is sacred and holy. mysterious. known, and yet unknown. so, the third sub theme is meant to help us focus on nature and all that she teaches us through the mystery of rhythms and cycles. you know, many of our holiday traditions actually come from early pagan rituals of celebration of this time of year in nature… so, it’s only fitting that we celebrate this miraculous and beautiful time of year, thanking mother nature for all she has done.

4. the gift of music (dec. 22-28) – ok. so i got cheesy here. but, we all love some holiday music. and seeing that this is the week of christmas eve and christmas day, i thought we’d take some time to slow down and really feel the music of the season – we’re gonna be singing it and hearing it anyway, might as well focus on it. of course, it was really hard to choose songs for this, because i could do a whole year of photo journeys on christmas songs. but, these, kinda just came to me as i thought about each day and they felt right. so, interpret them however you wish… but at least give them a listen on their day. let the music speak to your soul.

5. the gift of reflection (dec. 29-31) – if you know anything about me personally, you know that i looove reflecting before i move on. so, for the last three days of 2013, i thought it’d be fun to think a little about the year that has been and the year that is to come. and then, on the 31st… it’s all about celebrating!!

i hope that you join in with me during december. i hope that you don’t think of it as “one more thing to do”, but instead, something to help us stay focused and aware. time flies by so fast. life moves at a speedy pace and we miss so much. hopefully this photo journey will help us to take a breath and take a look at all that is going on, and then, take that moment to be grateful for one tiny little thing.

in any case, this photo journey is my holiday gift to you.


here’s to wishing you a december that is merry and bright! peace & love. xx