uppsala-river

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.

valborg-bonfire

 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?

valborg-drinks

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.

march-playlist

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