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meditation mondays: get alone + discover your dreams

this past weekend i hibernated at home mostly. something that i absolutely must do every now and then. ok, ok. i want to hibernate at home more often than i want to admit. but, i chalk that up to my introverted nature. i mean, a meditating vacation + pilgrimage to india sounds like heaven to me. but, so does a road trip across europe or the states.

oh, sure, i am a people person – as in i love meeting people, traveling + experiences different cultures, and challenging myself to put myself out there as much as possible. so, somewhere along the way, somehow, someday, i learned the art of balancing my introverted nature with the extroverted actions needed to follow my bliss. but, my inner soul is an old soul, yearning to sit with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, reading, writing, meditating, pondering, chatting, just being. this is when i feel the most connected to myself + to the world.

so, ultimately, i crave time alone. i need it like we need air to breathe. and by time alone, i mean it in three different ways: time spent truly all by myself, time spent only with my wife, and time spent with one or two friends/clients/students/co-workers. this is where i thrive. on the other hand, i also thrive when speaking in front of people, telling stories, inspiring + challenging them. i know. i’m a bit of a mixed-up, both/and kind of person.

but, at the end of the day, for all of the time that i spend with people, i need to be by myself. i need to find some solitary moments every single day to check in with myself, to remind myself what is important in life, to listen to my soul, to reflect and dream and plan. my alone time helps to keep me centered and aware and present. i’m like a living, breathing labyrinth journey. daily walking the path into the center of the labyrinth in order to be alone. and then walking back out again, ready to engage the world. my alone time is my reset button. my reminder of who i am + who i want to be.

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this weekend, in the midst of all of my cozy time reading, writing, and vegging in front of the tv, i also had some time to soak up the presence of others. one tiny little part of a conversation a stuck with me. it was about dreams. someone told me that they don’t have dreams. they have never really thought about it. this is something, i realized in that moment, that i take for granted.

doesn’t everybody dream?

yes, i believe so. but, i believe we bury our dreams deep inside us. then, especially as we grow older, we forget about them. or we assume that our dreams are silly and impossible. we completely empty our brains of the thoughts that dreams are a part of life. it’s not that we become cold or hard or bitter, we just move on. we just keep doing what we do. and dreams become irrational fairy tales.

somehow, because of some of the things that have happened to me/i chose to make happen (i.e. the break-up of my first marriage, quitting my job, leaving my home country), i opened myself up to the dreams that i had years ago. or, perhaps, my introverted, carefree, idealistic nature never let those dreams go. whatever the reason, i made a conscious decision to do everything that i can to make my dreams come true. and i mean that i literally, consciously said to myself that i refused to let myself grow old and be that person who looked back on her life saying, “i wonder what it would have been like to…” or “i wonder if i had done…”. yes, i literally consciously had a moment when i decided that those questions would never, ever be a part of my life. no way was i going to fill my one, short life with anything less than magical moments, adventures, and love. and in that moment, anything became possible. dreams became goals. i realized that there are no hinders, no problems, no impossibilities. only solutions.

however, also in that moment, i had no idea what my dreams were. really.

and now, seven years later, i realize that dreams evolve and change. and, when you realize one dream, another one appears. or, perhaps one dream you had morphs into something completely different. or, you dreamed one thing, and it turned out to look completely different than you had planned. it’s not always easy to hammer down what our dreams are.

and, that’s why i love being alone. that’s why i need to spend time alone.

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i need to let myself dream and wonder and be in awe. it’s not about living for the future, but it is about living in the present and feeling what your soul is saying to you right then and there.

but, when my alone time is over, then it’s time to get out there + make those dreams happen, always returning back to myself to check in and listen to my soul again. remember, the labyrinth thing?

yes, we are all wired differently. some of us love the attention and energy of being around crowds of people. and some of us love the quiet, solitary moments alone. most of us are somewhere in between. but, all of us need both. it is a balancing act. and we all teeter one way more than the other. the challenge is to let ourselves spend some time alone or push ourselves out into the world. both places are where we find inspiration. we hear our soul and we encounter the souls of others. and this, in the middle this balancing act, is where dreams are born. dreams that most definitely, with a little bit of openness, trust, and a whole lot of work, can be made a reality.

all we gotta do first is believe.

onwards + upwards!! xx

do you take the time to dream? what are your dreams right now in life? share them with me – and i’ll cheer you on!

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your path is beautiful + crooked + just as it should be

with a new move, comes a lot of practical things to take care of. i mean, we have to deal with reality. not everything is dinners out + trips + meeting up with old friends. just now, lina and i are frantically searching for a place to live in uppsala  – where we will be moving to in one week because her job begins next monday. of course, i’m sending applications all over the place right now to find some kind of work as well. it is absolutely necessary to deal with all of these kinds of things in life, and prioritize what we can do + what we want to do.

all of this uncertainty is stressful + scary. nothing that i haven’t dealt with before in life, or will deal with again. still… it’s high stress. and the only way i can deal with all of the fear and uncertainty is to reconnect with my soul.

the other day, we took a walk through a park here in norrköping. the air was crisp, snow hung on the trees, + it was simply magical. we just had to get outside to soak it all up…

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the path may be uncertain, crooked, sideways, uphill, downhill, dark, unknown, scary, exciting, and so much more. but, one thing i am most certainly always certain of is, that whatever path you are on, whatever path i am on, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. if we can grab on to that thought and breathe through it, sucking out the beauty of each + every mundane day, then we can make it.

how about it. let’s all promise to take a few moments to sip on a cup of coffee or step outside or do some yoga or play some music today, ok? let’s do it for our souls. because, i fully + completely believe that when our souls + spirits are calm, then we tap into the powerful energy + inspiration that resides deeps inside us and connects us all. and then, we are empowered to keep on moving. we are energized to become more. we are ready to create and do and live. ahhh.. i can almost feel the power rising from within me!

onwards + upwards!

 

trust yourself: everything you need is within you

listen to the wind, it talks. listen to the silence, it speaks. listen to your heart, it knows. – native american saying

good evening, friends. i hope that you have had a good weekend. here, in my little corner of the world, i am feeling satisfied + peaceful after sneaking away with my love to atlanta for about 36 hours to refocus + recharge with some good friends (more to come on that on tuesday!). but, now, i am focused on winding down the first week of my meditation mondays series – and it feels pretty good.

me. right now. as i type to you.

me. right now. as i type to you.

last monday i started this new series, and i challenged myself (and you, if you are so interested) in taking a little vision quest journey, as native american children have done in the past. i’m not sure if they still practice this today, but i sure do hope so. in any case, my meditation on monday introduced us to the idea of taking our own quest throughout the week = taking some time to just be + listen to our souls. a chance to reconnect with ourselves + discover to what the universe may be calling us to next in life.

for me, there has been no clear message slapping me in the face this week, rather lots of little things, that, had i not been deliberately trying to slow down + pay attention, i would have totally missed.

once again, my soul reminds me that i am a writer. that all i want to do is write + travel, and travel + write. and, even as things are changing right now in my life (more to come on that at a later date), i am reminded once again to stick to what my soul says.  scary and uncertain as it all may be, my soul knows me.

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now, before i let this vision quest thing go and prepare to move on to next week’s meditation mondays theme, i want to address something that we all often struggle with: guilt!

all this talk about the soul sounds a lot like me, me, me, me, me! egocentric. self-centered. selfish. but, my friends, it isn’t. not when you focus on yourself in the hopes of growth + transformation. now, only thinking about what we want next or what we want now, is one thing. meditating and turning inward is something completely different, i believe. something that is necessary in order to remain aligned + attached to our soul – because when we do that, when we attach ourselves to our true inner soul, then everything that flows out of us is done with love and compassion. therefore, when we go on a little quest to discover our personal legend or our calling at this time in our lives, then we are seeking ways to be true to who we are, which, in turn, makes us better people – who then make a difference in the world.

the native americans have a belief that life can be described as 4 concentric circles, with the first and inner circle being our self. the next one, our family and community. the 3rd one, the animals + the earth + all of humanity. and, the last one, spirituality. this is freaking genius, i believe.

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this is my little image that i created to show you what i mean. life begins at the center – at discovering who we are as unique individuals. but, we expand outward. in fact, everything in life is fluid, flowing back + forth through all of the circles, crossing lines, all connected and affected by one another. and, yet, unified as one circle. how beautiful is that?

this week, we went on a quest, a personal journey. starting tomorrow, we will begin to meditate on the next circle – family + community. using who we are, how do we impact those that are closest to us? what do the native americans have to say about the importance of family + community?

but, for tonight, i want to leave you with a bit of music from my native november playlist (see the left column for a link) for inspiration. listen + ponder. and be secure in who you are. you have everything you need within you:

light + love. xx

see you tomorrow for a new meditation!

and we’re off!

my love and i don’t mess around when it comes to celebrating. nope. and in honor of the fact that lina just completed her last final exam for the semester and her first full year at an american university (and did an amazing job at it!), we are gettin’ outta dodge = it’s time for a road trip!

school’s out and we’re headed to the beach! like, today. right now. so, see ya later peeps. we’ll only be gone for a few days – because lina’s mom and 2 of her aunts are coming to visit for a week! i know, tons of excitement right now, right?!

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wishing you a fantastic week wherever you are – and wherever you are, seek the peace within that reminds you that you are exactly where you need to be (even if you don’t want to be there). hold on… because, you already have everything you need within you. we all do. and all we need to do is connect with our true self, with our soul, with the universal flow of peace and love that runs through us all…

but, more about that in another post. for now, it’s windows down, radio on, and beach-bound!

peace out. xx

living like a lily.

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oh lord, here we go again. what is wrong with me? why can’t i just trust the process? here i am, finding myself without my 40 day blog project, and feeling panicky. again. a clear case of the “i don’t know what to do next” blues. of course, i also know that everything always works out, even better than i usually plan or imagine. so, i’m actually beating myself up about feeling panicky because i know that there is NO NEED to feel panicky. everything is always fine.

and, i mean, hey. i’ve still got my newspaper gig, which gives me an article to do every 3 weeks or so, but i need more. but, what more could a girl ask for at this point? i mean, my dreams keep coming true. so, why am i complaining? well, i’m irritated at my restless worry that has popped up immediately when i have a little down time or transition time. really i am pissed at myself for knowing the lessons learned, but not being able to trust them. gaaaahhh, i irritate myself.

or i feel guilty. perhaps that’s it. the question is, is it legitimate guilt or is it just societal pressures and me falling prey to conforming? today i am feeling pressure to be practical and not dreamy. and that’s so not me. aaaaand, if i remember correctly, i learned that the last time i freaked out and tried to make practicality my main thing, it blew up in my face and i learned a great lesson – or so i thought. if i learned my lesson, why am i back here again? fighting the same old fight. practicality vs purpose.

one thing i do know for sure is that over the past few months i’ve learned that the wind doesn’t necessarily just take you wherever you are supposed to be, not even for a free spirit like myself. you (i) have to make things happen as well. it’s a crazy balance between being free and open, and being active and determined.

that would be all well & great with me right now, if i had something that was motivating me. some “new project” to focus on and chase. but, i don’t know what that is. what comes next? that’s the big question. i created a purpose for myself and suddenly that purpose is gone. and i’m feeling all restless and nervous.

i know exactly what i am supposed to do, though. it’s time to refocus on who i am called to be, and to separate the soul from the societal, cultural expectations. good lord. i exhaust myself.

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so, i started this new yoga/meditation series on gratitude yesterday. i listen to a guided meditation and looked at beautiful nature videos. sounds cheesy, but my brain needs the guidance right now. silent meditation just doesn’t work – my mind goes everywhere. non-stop. so, i’m being guided. and yesterday’s time was really great, and appropriately all about purpose, finding and living our purpose in life. perfect. good.

today’s meditation. not. so. much. do you know what?! i clicked on “day 2″ and saw that there was only an audio part. the video part was missing, or so i thought. nooooot. i just happened to see some comments at the bottom of the page where people were expressing their disgust at discovering exactly what i had just discovered: in order to watch the videos for the rest of the 21 day period, you have to pay. UGH. now, as if my own irritation at myself wasn’t enough, i was supremely irritated with this money-grubbing scam. oh, how nice that they “let” us see the video for free on the first day, without even so much as  alerting us that we would have to pay for every other day. sneaky and sucky.

i shut down my computer and decided that i would do this meditation thing all on my own anyway – wandering mind and all. my mind did wander. it was a really short time of meditation (like 3 minutes) and then i was up and wondering what i would do next. unable to come up with a “project” or purpose, and still feeling guilty for not having come up with anything. unable to think of a new project or of any thanksgiving stories to pitch to the newspaper, i did what any good wife would do… i cleaned. i cleaned the whole apartment. even vacuumed, which i loathe. just to get my mind off all my restless guilt. (and the apartment needed cleaning).

after cleaning, i got dressed and planned to head out to vote and do some wifely grocery errands, when suddenly my phone plinged with an email. my editor sent a story suggestion for me. wait, what?! a story assignment?! YES! she asked if i could do a quick turn around story and have it to her by monday about a gluten free bakery that employes & teaches homeless & at-risk youth to be published in the thanksgiving issue of the paper. hell yeah, i could do it!  thanksgiving, community service, bakery goodies, at-risk/homeless  youth, and a female buddhist monk (yes she calls herself a monk!) running it all? hell yeah times two!

so, here i am. late afternoon. email sent to try to meet these amazing people and get started on my story tomorrow. ready to make dinner soon. and feeling….

peace.

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this time, it feels like the wind did just blow me in the direction in needed to go.

you know, all this has gotten me thinking. about what we need. we need to be needed. we need to have a purpose. but, it’s not some secret thing that some big god in the sky knows and we have to figure it out. i don’t believe that there is this grand plan and a big book with our name on it, and we are supposed to spend our lives figuring out what it is we are supposed to do, what’s written in that book – like some crazy destiny puzzle. fuck that. that’s too much damn pressure. and just down right mean.

no, instead, i think that it’s much more about our souls. about knowing who we are on the inside. about what makes our soul sing. what makes us want to wake up every day. what gives us chills and touches us to the depths of our inner being, so much so that we feel like we either might burst or cry, or both. it’s being aware of those moments that take our breath away, that just are… perfect – and we cross some threshold, or have some vision or feeling that this is it. this is who i am.

because, in the end, it’s much, much more about who we are, than what we do. when we are true to who we are, everything we do will be a gift to this world, everything we do will make a difference. because everything we do will be bubbling up from our soul and we will be living into who we were created to be, not what we think what we must do.

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there is a passage from the bible that just popped into my head (to be honest, that hasn’t happened in a while). it is found in two different books (matthew & luke, in the new testament). and it’s about lilies in a field and what they do. guess what those lilies do… they do nothing. they just are. just being the flowers that they are supposed to be. and from that being, that authentic way of living, they grow. they become the flowers they were created to be, offering fragrance and beauty to the world.

oh, what we can learn from those lilies! imagine how much beauty and joy and fragrance we can give to the world, simply by being who we are, by being true to ourselves. by not seeking to be what others think or wish we would be, but by just being… who we are.

what we’ve gotta do – what i’ve gotta do – is trust ourselves and trust the process. we have got to dig deep and find the courage to let go of the fear of being who we are, even if that takes us down a road that seems so different from everyone else’s road. if we simply sit with ourselves and listen to our souls, we will discover and know who we are created to be.

yeah. i have made that journey. i have walked that road of getting to know who i am. that’s the first step. but, now that i know, do i have the courage to just be? do i have the strength to just live as i am, be who i am, and let all the other expectations fall by the wayside? can i fight the urge to do the practical thing and simple rest in who i am?

you know what, i do. i can. i will. even when i have crazy, restless, guilty moments in the future, i will remember (as i have done now) what the truth is. i will remember what is true is that each of us are created uniquely, in the image of something sacred, with a divine spark inside us, making us who we are: connected to each other & this entire world, and yet, fiercely independent and amazing as ourselves. i will remember these things once again, the next time that i feel all freaked out and scared. and with each day that passes, i will know that i am becoming more and more the person, the individual, the part of this world that i am meant to be…. fully me.

you see, being true to who i am, who i feel called to be (a writer, mentor, theologian) will allow me to make a greater difference than trying to fit myself into some preconceived box that seems acceptable to the world. so what that my life is different? so what that i live a little bit more crazily than society deems practical? if i, if we, don’t follow our dreams and listen to our soul, then we miss out. and, for me, my wife, my family, my friends, and the world misses out on me and you being as beautiful and as fragrant as we are meant to be.

so, that’s it. lesson learned. again. time to live like a lily.

peace and love.

when you just know what you know.

image from pinterest.

image from pinterest.

sitting at a coffee shop right now, feeling completely blessed and inspired. i’ve got all these connections, vibes, and amazing things going on today. wow. i’m excited. overwhelmed…

i’m just breathing it all in. soaking it all in. and preparing to give it all back.

happy wednesday, lovely people. peace & love.