welcome to uppsala!

i’ve had a a few days now to start to find my way around uppsala. i knew some very basic things, like where the castle is and where the cathedral is, and where the river is downtown. i knew where the station is and where lina’s brother lives, and where lina + her brother work. yes, i already knew the general direction of everything in relation to where we are living.

but, that’s not enough for me. i need to explore and wander. i get excited by getting lost. and, while it’s been super duper cold this week, i’ve wandered around a bit, ducking into alleys, turning onto random streets, and seeing what i can find. of course, i’m on the hunt also for cafés, pubs, parks, and bookstores. anything tiny and quaint and cozy looking. when will i stumble onto my next favorite hole in the wall? that’s always the burning question in my soul.

so, i thought, that since it’s the weekend, i’d share a few photos of uppsala – this beautiful, international, very, very old city. i mean, the city was founded in 1164! that’s freaking old. and the university was started in 1477, the oldest academic university in scandinavia. impressive stuff, i think. especially with my american background –  where buildings + cities from the 1700s are considered old. hehe.

so, here are a bunch of photos i’ve snapped around the city. take a peek at the beauty that my eyes get to behold every single day…

and, welcome to uppsala!

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bridge alley bookshop
colorful-street-uppsala mailman cafe yoga cathedral
happy weekend!!

onwards + upwards! xoxo


five days. two continents. and a ton of adventures.

hello blog! hello friends!

we did it! we made the move to sweden! i am embarking on my third (!!) expat journey, my second in sweden. it feels surreal + unbelievable that we are here. i will not bore you with all of the details, but just know that, as every single trip/journey that my love + i take together, this was was no different: filled with adventures, stress, tears, laughs, and craziness. whenever we travel, near or far, you can count on us having lots of stories to tell. so, i thought i’d share a few with you from our journey from asheville to sweden!

last saturday, lina and i walked downtown and soaked up the gorgeous asheville weather + sights. of course, we met a few friends, had some beer, and i decided to do something a little different. i went brown! yep. my hair is now a dark golden brown, and i am totally in love with it. 40 years old. a new year. new adventures. a new move. all of that was the perfect recipe for giving myself a little hair-do-over. let’s see how this brunette thing goes for me… so far, though, so good. it feels totally perfect for my whole empowered theme for 2015.

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sunday morning, the journey began. my parents drove to my brother’s house to pick us up. they have a jeep wrangler, so it’s not that much space for 5 suitcases, a big cat crate, two little overnight bags, and 4 humans. lina and nick squeezed it all in, and then it was time to head north as far as we could make it.

i had to say goodbye to my brother (oh lord. i’m tearing up just typing this.), and it just about ripped my heart into pieces. i cannot even begin to describe the joy and love that i have for the past year and a half that we have been able to spend together in asheville, seeing each other practically every day. oh, how i am going to miss him. how i miss him already. but, this one photo i snapped just before i squeezed into the jeep will be something that i hold so close to me everywhere i go. except for my amazing wife, my brother is it for me – my best friend, my confidant, and a huge inspiration. sunrise-asheville-last-day me-and-nick-brother car-riding-newark-

we made it all the way to allentown, pennsylvania – only an hour and  half from newark where we were catching our flight to sweden on monday. we checked into a hotel, let zola out of her crate after being so good during our 9ish hour ride, and settled into our room to eat mozzarella sticks and drink beer.

the next morning, we ate breakfast with my parents, took our time getting ready, and then headed on to the airport – which took no time at all, and the drive was super easy, even if we were just outside of new york city. whew.

the airport was my next emotional breakdown moment. time to say goodbye to my parents – the two people who would do anything in the world for me, my brother, and lina. they always go out of their way to make sure that we have exactly what we want +/or need. their thoughtfulness blows me away. and having to leave for another country yet again (here come the tears…) broke my heart.

luckliy, we all had stressful things to deal with immediately after saying goodbye, so we couldn’t dwell on the sadness. my parents had to find their way out of the airport, around NYC (without going INTO NYC), and up to connecticut. lina and i had to immediately figure out where to take zola and begin the process of leaving her at the airport.

soon, though, we were at the gate (after a bit of stress + some biting off of each others’ head), and only had to wait about 30 minutes before boarding. time to fly! mom-and-me luggage-newark family-newark-airport airport-newark-usa

the flight went well – as good as those 8 hour overnight flights can go. but, it did seem to go by pretty fast, and before i knew it, it was tuesday morning and we were landing in sweden! still, completely blown away by the fact that we were there. not really believing it, even though i saw all of the familiar sights at the airport.

we got our luggage and began the process of getting zola – a process that i cannot write about here because it would take forever to tell you the whole story, i would cry the entire time i typed it, and it’s just so unbelievable + so painful to think about. basically, i want to forget that it ever happened. let’s just say that, although we knew that she was on the plane with us since we saw her crate being taken out of the cargo hold, it took us 3 hours, lots of extra paperwork, many tears, a lot of driving, and more stress than i can imagine to finally pick her up at a warehouse.

however, we got her and headed home to lina’s parents. all of us safe + sound + completely worn out. how is it possible that after all of the months of waiting and anticipating and dreading this process of this trip, it was finally over?! we were exhausted with joy.

so, we slept. and 10 hours later, late on wednesday morning, we woke up to a new day. our first full day in sweden! and what a beautiful, snowy, wintery day it was! take a peek at the view outside our window:morning-view-sweden-norrkopingwell, we finally got up, showered away our travels, ate some food, and got dressed to head downtown. lina was meeting a friend for a massage and i was psyched about a little fika time all alone – a chance to land a little bit and to let it all begin to soak in. i snuggled in with a book and a chai latte at a favorite cafe while the snow continued to fall outside.


at 4, lina called to tell me she was done, so we could meet up and head to dinner + drinks with a friend (her masseuse). this is 4:00 pm in sweden. the sun has set. crazy, huh? but, oh so beautiful.sunset-sweden-winter-norrkoping

we walked through the snow + ice, with the wind gently on our faces, to dinner. we found a table near the bar at a cozy cafe/pub and sat down for food + beer. this place, tucked away on a little street here in norrköping, is not like most places in sweden. it’s less formal, more relaxed, and has a definite asheville vibe. so much so, that we ate our food, drank a lot of beer, laughed loudly, and enjoyed ourselves for about 5 hours. we were definitely channeling our asheville souls. and that felt so good. the perfect asheville/sweden balance for a dinner-broadway-cafe-sweden friends-broadway-cafe

this morning (thursday), we woke up to even more snow. heavy, thick, wet snow that is still clinging to the trees even as i write this late at night. but, it’s a magical winter wonderland, and i love it. plus, it’s not too cold. the fresh air feels amazing and freeing and like letting all good things into my lungs. i don’t know  how many times today i simply took a deep breath, looked up, and gave thanks. for everything.norrkoping-snowy-trees

yep. i’m away from home, and yet i’ve come home. i still feel every emotion possible, just as i did back in asheville. but, just as in asheville, my soul is content. of course, the other night, as i lay in bed, having texted my brother and having not heard back from him yet, i began to cry. ok, sob. i cried and cried on our first night here. i was so tired. and so sad. and so relieved. part of my heart is missing, and part of my heart is filled again. but, it’s all just an amazing, wonderful gift – this life that i have.

since then, i have talked with my mom and dad, and texted with my brother. i have chatted with some friends in asheville and met up with some friends i have missed here in sweden. i got to connect with my soulmate + kindred spirit today for a sushi lunch. and, though we’ve been apart and haven’t seen each other since the summer, he + i are in very similar places in life. always paralleling each other in some way, yet in uniquely different ways too. it was so good to see him.

me-swedenso, here i am. all settled into the thought of being in sweden again. loving the snow + the cozy atmosphere. completely overwhelmed + grateful that i get to share this life with my amazing love.

mind you, we are not settled settled yet. there are many, many more adventures to come – like finding a place to live. that’s right, we don’t have a place to live yet, oh, and i’m job-hunting. for now, though, we are here with lina’s parents, in the town where we used to live. we will be here for a week and a half more, then lina is headed up to uppsala – where we will make our new home (though we have no home yet). we will see if zola and i can go too… depending on that home situation. still, that’s about 10 days away, and a lot can happen in 10 days. so, stay tuned to follow the next adventures.

in the meantime, join me in tapping into the power and balance and peace and fierceness that is within…

onwards + upwards, my friends!

lincoln memorial

Washington, DC + snow!! Another little photo sneak peek!

Yesterday I woke up, looked out my hotel window, and saw lots of snow! It was absolutely beautiful and I just knew that it would be a magical day of touring the city. And… it totally was. From the Air + Space museum to the Washington Mall to the National Cathedral and Georgetown, everything was so lovely and perfect. Have I said that I love this city?!









Not to worry… there are so many more photos from my Nikon to come in a few days. Until then, Happy Hump Day my friends!

Onwards + Upwards! xoxo

sensory overload. part 13.

hi friends! it’s monday, again. time for a new week and time for my weekly sensory overload post! i find it pretty fun to go through my photos from the past week, and notice the things that were inspiring, amazing, and just simply really helps me to focus on seeing the beauty and amazingness that is contained in regular, everyday life. and that, i believe, is an important thing to practice.

we spend so much time wishing for this or that – always thinking that the grass is greener of the other side. these monday posts help me to focus and see that, no, life is pretty damn good exactly where i am. and it’s all these little moments that make me grateful for life, instead of wishing it away.

this past week i del like a drank a lot of coffee – and i was quite social. i worked on a coffee article about beans in the beginning of the week, and that gave me an amazing opportunity to have conversation with some seriously passionate people. plus, i am now wanderlusting about doing a coffee trip to a coffee farm overseas. how amazing would that be? i also had my regular fika meet up in a super funky, eclectic cafe in west asheville. battle cat is a definite favorite place to hang out. (i went twice last week!). and, during the weekend, i had two coffee meetings with panels i was chairing for two articles i am writing for and asheville eats & drinks guide that the local newspaper is publishing. so, yes. lots of people. lots of coffee. and that equals lots of fun!

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the winter weather just won’t seem to let up this year. it’s a crazy roller coaster ride, but i think we are in for some awesomeness this week as it will be in the 70s (20s celsius!). i’m keeping my fingers crossed – it is going to be april tomorrow, you know! time for a little spring!IMG_0579 IMG_0584 IMG_0719

i had my second book club meeting last tuesday, and it was so very great. there were about 12 women, lots of conversation and debate, glasses of wine, and a snowy evening all making it a perfect, cozy gathering. i just love meeting new people, hearing different takes on a book, and finding inspiration. plus, i get to channel my inner spiritual direction/teacher. bonus.IMG_0597 IMG_0602

here are a few more shots from the drive up north of asheville for that teaching interview i had. i’ll hear back something this week – not to determine if i got the job or not, but to coordinate my thoughts with the director = see where we both stand and what we are both thinking. i’l tell you what i’m thinking: i’m thinking that i want this job!

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my parents came to town, so we did quite a bit of eating out (nothing new, i know. hehe). yummy places, fun times, and good to be together again. they split their time between my brother’s place and ours. it was short and quick, but meaningful to me.IMG_0558 IMG_0639 IMG_0666

enjoyed a few things that i love to the max this week: bubbles to drink, snuggles with our favorite little american, girl time with her mom, and cozy nights at home.IMG_0670

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how was your week? any amazing moments? i hope that not only have you had a good weekend, but that this upcoming week is filled with joy and happiness and peace. sending you lots of love. xx

p.s. tomorrow is my belovelive anniversary! stay tuned for a celebration & april’s photo challenge! 


sensory overload: part 7

this past week was all about one thing: S N O W ! i’m pretty sure that there was snow falling from the sky at some point for six days straight. crazy! at the beginning of the week paige was still here with us, and we were hoping she’d get snowed in. but, she made it to the airport on tuesday and we had to say goodbye for a few months. very sad… but, very exciting that she’s moving here in july! eeeek!

on monday, i did a little freelance work, interviewing an amazing hungarian lady who’s opened a fabulous european inspired cafe in downtown asheville. one of the amazing perks of reporting on coffeehouses and cafes is free stuff. not only the free coffee, but the free goodies as well. on monday i got 3 different incredible cookies.then, lina had three snow days and we were at home from tuesday afternoon until friday night – which, of course, i think is amazingly fun and cozy. luckily, i had done the crazy shopping thing that we southerners do whenever there is snow in the forecast. so, we were hooked up with all kinds of yummy comfort food. we ate that yummy food and enjoyed every bit of it. we also took a few walks in the snow. took photos. netflixed some. and i did a lot of blogging, writing, and planning. i loved just nesting and being together.

but, i am definitely over winter now. that was the perfect winter weather week and opportunity to hunker down at home. but, now, i’m absolutely ready for spring. i’m ready to throw open the balcony door and be out & about with the sun shining. however, i know that spring will not be coming for at least another month and a half. the good thing about north carolina, though, is that the weather can change quite quickly. for instance, this week, it’s going to be 60sF/20sC! it’ll be a fantastic little break from the cold. but, the threat of cold and snow is always there until the end of april. so, real spring doesn’t start until then – much like in sweden. i’m gonna soak up the warm weather this week anyway and work on enjoying the weather moments as they come.

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hearing: laughter coming from some of the most important people in my life.

tasting: cookies from old europe patisserie.

seeing: the snow falling day after day. so beautiful.

touching: the warm sun touching my skin on sunday afternoon. ahhhh-mazing.

feeling: overwhelmingly grateful for the beauty of nature, the opportunity to nest and be cozy at home, amazed at the incredible friendship/family-ship between paige, lina, nick, & me.

smelling: lots of coffee brewing throughout the week to keep me warm.

sending out peace & love to you all, dear readers. xx

where is paradise to you?

“wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where i am.” – voltaire

it’s no secret that i love to travel. and i do it whenever i get the chance. i love big trips which mean saving big money for planes tickets. and i love little weekend, or even day, trips. and while my wanderlust is in overdrive right now – i am dyyyying for a road trip, i ran across a quote that brought me back to reality. or at least my reality.

i most definitely love adventure. i love exploring new places, new people, new sights, new food, and new cultures. and part of what i love about traveling is that feeling of excitement and awe and surprise, of being purely present in the moment. this quote reminded about what is really the most important thing… appreciating the where i am, soaking it all in, and letting it transform me. but, what i easily forget is that living in the present moment can be achieved no matter where i am.

so, instead of focusing on what i where i want to go, i focus on where i am. and where i am, is just as much of an adventure as where i want to go. follow me? it’s all about how i choose to see my everyday life. i can spend my days in misery, pining away for my next road trip or travel adventure (and part of me will always be planning and dreaming about that), or i can spend my days living life to the fullest right where i am. soaking up the paradise that is around me.

with that in mind, i grabbed my camera, bundled up, and headed out the door to see what i could see. i may not have gone far, but i definitely had some experiences. yep. today, my big travel adventure was right below balcony.

take a peek at what my paradise looks like today:

entrance verde vistaearly morningsnowwinter poolpoolparking lotsnow angelcamera selfieDSC_0941parkingevergreen treefront verde vistasnow covered roadhighway


photo by (my love)

my love and me

photo by (my love)

do you believe that wherever you are can be paradise? what is paradise to you?

peace & love. xx

* this begins my new series on thursday, which i will call “travel thursdays”. every week i’ll post something that has to do with travel – an inspiring quote, a photo, a place, a recent trip, an upcoming trip, tips, you name it. as long as it’s travel-related. so, check back next thursday to see where travel to next! 

wednesday wisdom: rules of living #1

for the next 18 weeks (that’s from now until the middle of june!), i will be using the 18 rules of living by the dalai lama as my guide for the wisdom in these wednesday posts. i want to  tap into the amazing philosophy of the dalai lama and take a little time to think about each one of the rules, one at a time, letting it all really sink in. perhaps i’ll find a photo to go along with the rule for the week. or write a little anecdote from my life. who knows… i will just let the quote/rule inspire me.

i’m not going to do the 18 rules in the order that you always find them, but instead, i ‘m going to pick numbers out of a bowl or ask someone to choose a number to determine which rule to use that week.

ok.enough of the explanation. time to get on with this week’s quote:

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

boy, that’s a tough one. i general get all flustered and upset when i don’t get what i want. do you?

like, today. the news across everywhere has been focused intensely and constantly on a snowstorm that is poised to hit the south. it is actually hitting some places already, but i’ve been looking out my window all day long,  waiting for the really heavy snow they say is coming to make it to me. i wanted it to snow so badly. i love the snow, and it is so frustrating to me when it doesn’t snow – especially when the news media has hyped us all up about an impending super snowstorm. (i know. first world problems).

but, i realized this afternoon that i was feeling a negative and icky. and i decided to make a change in my attitude. i mean, the snow is not anything that i can control, but i can control my reactions, right? so, i decided to focus on being inside. writing. being cozy. being thankful.

IMG_9038you’ve heard people say that something is a “blessing in disguise” i’m sure. it’s one of those saying that rubs me the wrong way. like someone saying, “it was meant to be” when something bad happens. for me, it’s just not comforting. it may, in fact, be a blessing in disguise, or a stroke of luck, when things don’t go our way, but in the moment it sure doesn’t feel that way. so don’t tell me to just get over it and see the bright side.

hopefully, thought, i am centered enough as a person, that i will feel disappointed/frustrated/pissed off/scared in the moment, and then i will remember to trust the universe and my soul. i will remember that all of the tough moments pass. that they are just moments, and that generally, there is something more amazing waiting for me that i could have never imagined. the tough times will not last. the disappointment will disappear. all i have to do is to breathe and stay centered, and then i will find the strength to keep moving forward, trusting, believing, hoping.

IMG_8905today i was reminded of the fact that last year my love and i planned to go to china for a 2 week vacation. we had our tickets, our hotel, and had even completed the visa process and had them in our passports. but, my love was very sick and we decided, to cancel our trip because it was too risky for her to travel. little did we know that 10 days later, while we would have been on our trip, my love ended up in the hospital. and she stayed there for basically 2 months.

were we disappointed? most definitely! it was a tough moment when we cancelled, and then also when the day rolled around that we would have boarded our plane to fly to asia – a place neither one of us had ever been. but, was it worth it? most definitely!

we couldn’t see it then. we didn’t understand it. it did not feel like luck or a blessing or anything positive to miss out on that trip. but, missing out on something we wanted so badly turned out to be a major defining moment for the beginning of my love’s recovery from anorexia. because we didn’t go, she survived. because we didn’t go, she got help that she really needed right at that moment. we didn’t see how bad it all was. we didn’t understand how everything was going to work out. but, looking back, it was such a great  thing (but difficult thing in the moment) that we stayed home.

IMG_9051 2so, the dalai lama has a point here. and it is a rule that i have actually learned over and over again in my life: a job i didn’t get led to something better. a marriage that ended that soon opened up more opportunities for me. waiting much longer to move to europe than i wanted  – i waited 13 years! – made life that much sweeter. and today, that silly little snowstorm that wasn’t materializing. and so much more…

so, here we are. living in our moments. experiencing heartbreak, disappointment, scary times, defeat, and pain. but, if we allow ourselves to just breathe, if we stay present and trust, then we will understand. because i firmly believe that there is always hope on the other side. that light dispels the darkness. and that after winter, there is always spring.


wishing us all patience as we wait it out. one day, we will understand.

peace and love. xx


sensory overload: what a crazy, great start to 2014

oh gosh. i haven’t done a sensory overload post in 2014 until now. and you know what that means, right? tons of photos. but, that’s ok with you, isn’t it?

it has been a magical, beautiful, and inspiring start to my 2014. from a vacation to disney world to having paige (for the love of wanderlust) here for a few days (and she’s coming back in just 4 days!) to meeting with my editor about my newspaper column to snow days to getting back to a regular schedule after the holidays to finding my yoga groove again… it has been such a great month. exiting and relaxing all at the same time. and that, my friends, is a perfect balance in my world.

here’s a peek into many of the things that piqued my senses and overloaded me with joy and love…

coziness at home

living room girls season 3 home studio daisies parents

new year. new salon. new haircut.

blue ribbonselfie new haircut

crazy weather: from warm sun to 1 F/-18 C cooooldtrees my asheville balcony haywood roadsnow cozy cat snow day snow pool home snowy road weaverville snowy farm

time at my favorite hangout: highland brewing companyhighland brewery beer sunburst

working fikas & new writing assignments
world coffee cafe eagle street coffee emporium downtown asheville

namasteyoga love yourself february selfie

what touched, inspired, moved, and amazed you in january? happy february, friends!

peace & love. xx

a little new year’s wrap-up.

i had so much fun on new year’s eve that i just can’t stop looking at all of the photos we took (me, lina, charlie, & lanie). it was a crazy, fun celebration – exactly how i thought it would be…

my love and i hit the road early tuesday morning, destination: atlanta, georgia. we headed straight for a few swedish stores (h&m and ikea) to stock up on a few items we were missing. then, we made our way through the city and over to the east side neighborhood known as little five points. asheville people, think west asheville. other people, think asheville. it’s a hippie, funky, vintage, retro, alternative kinda place, which has been around for a while. it’s dotted with thrift stores, hipster clothing stores, coffee shops, and pubs mostly = heaven for me & lina. we met lanie at rag-o-rama, a to die for thrift store that is tres popular. after a little thrifting, we went into a record store that had so many albums i was completely overwhelmed. wow. and, of course, we had to stop in a pub that lanie recommended, the porter, for a beer before heading to lanie and charlie’s house.

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lanie and charlie are a lesbian couple that we became quick friends with when we met. well, lanie and i have been blogging buddies for a while actually. but, we only met face to face for the first time this past september, when lanie and charlie came to the asheville area for some camping. we hit it off greatly, and have been keeping in touch via Facebook and blogs, constantly talking about getting together again. actually, they will be having a commitment/wedding ceremony in october and have asked me to officiate (which i can do, since it will not be a legal marriage. so, yay! and boo, if you get my drift). anyway, lina and i decided to contact them just before christmas and see if they had any NYE plans, which they didn’t. so they graciously allowed us to come & stay with them, and they took on the roll of finding something cool for us to do.


once we arrived at their home, we took no time dilly-dallying around, but got right to getting ready for our big NYE…. lina and i getting all girlied-up and lanie & charlie sliding into their jeans and shirts and chains and leather jackets. yes, we are the femme (girly girls) and they are the more butchy type (hopefully i am not offending them, i don’t know if they call themselves that). but, it doesn’t matter – we get along so very well! oh, gosh, they are so much fun!

we headed out to a favorite pub of theirs for beer and dinner – and met up with another couple as well. i had a cold beer and fish & chips, so i was totally satisfied. we laughed and joked and just enjoyed the coziness of our booth in the brick store – if you’re in decatur, georgia ever, go there!

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after dinner, we took the train/subway to midtown (downtown) atlanta to head to the main event of the evening. a party called “swank” in a hip, cool, modern bar/lounge/restaurant called 10th & piedmont. it was advertised as a women’s party, but men were invited and welcome too. but that whole “women” thing meant that there were a lot of lesbian couples there i assumed…. and there were. now, lina and i don’t hang out at lesbian/gay places like ever. not that we have anything against it at all. we just mix in with people. and go wherever we feel like going. lgbt focused, or not.  but, this night was going to be a lot about lesbians and women… and it was so much fun. it wasn’t super crazy or wild, as it was an older crowd – like late 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, i guess. so, it was adults, not kids. dancing, drinking, laughing. which is exactly what we did – until way into the new year. i pretty much celebrated it up. they even served us party favors and glasses of champagne at midnight, and then we all counted down. after about 5 minutes of hugging and kissing, it was back to boogie-ing and laughing and keeping the partying going.

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finally about 2 am we dragged our selves out of there, onto the train, and back to the house for some sleep. up and at ’em new years day meant sitting in our pi’s, drinking coffee, and eating quiche together, reliving the night. of course, i remembered everything because i was not drunk at all during the evening. i didn’t need to  be, i had so much fun just soaking up every little moment. plus i had to drive home on new year’s day.

which i did… lina and i headed home later on in the day and then vegged out before going to bed and passing out until yesterday – when we vegged out again (except lina took down a bunch of christmas stuff). suddenly, last night, as we were watching netflix, i looked outside and saw that there was snow everywhere. we had no idea! so we went outside, took some photos, and reveled in the coziness of beginning our new year with so much fun, excitement, love, and warmth – literally & figuratively. DSC_0117 DSC_0120 DSC_0114

i hope that you have had a great start to your new year, dear friends!

peace & love. xx