40 | july 2015: a playlist to celebrate freedom

do you have a place that you consider your own little paradise? or do you have more than one place? it could be that you have been there, or that you dream of going there.

it is a place that gives you sense of freedom. a feeling of bliss and perfect happiness. technically, it may not even be a physical place, but a state of being. a feeling of complete contentment.

i have a few places that seem like heaven on earth to me. they are places that i feel connected to myself, both present + past. they are places that have risen from traditions that i have experienced in my life, because they are places that i usually return to again and again. they are little sanctuaries.

of course, there are a few little paradise places that i have only visited once. but, their memories are burned into my soul. 

what all of these places have in common is that they are sacred, holy, important, spiritual places in my life. places like the mountains of north carolina or the beaches of the crystal coast in north carolina. places like the greek island of mykonos and the mystical ruins of the goddess isis outside of corinth, greece.

i even have a new paradise, one that i found thanks to my love. it is in the swedish archipelago in the southern part of sweden, on the east coast. this most likely is my love’s most important place on earth. and, because of being married to her, i have spent about 5 summers here with her. soaking up nature. getting back to the simple things in life. and over time, it has become a paradise to me too.

luckily, we are headed out there next week for a little vacation.

as i thought about july’s playlist, i just could’t let go of the word freedom. it just keep popping up everywhere and has stayed close to my heart throughout the past few weeks. 

so, i decided that i would use the word freedom as my muse for july’s playlist. there’s no better time to think about feeling free than the summer or holiday/vacation season. and july is prime time for that in the northern hemisphere as we break free from our homes + our routines to enjoy  being outside, finding time to take it easy, and slowing down a bit to renew our souls.


of course, as an american, it is easy to think about freedom in july, since we celebrate independence day on the 4th of july. and that sense of freedom is important, but i’ve been thinking much deeper that that as well.

so, with this playlist, i’ve chosen music that is upbeat and playful, highlighting the free-spirited feelings of summer + vacations. but, i’ve also included some music that makes social commentaries on what it means for all people to be free. while we enjoy our freedoms, there are others who do not have the same opportunities. and, as we have heard asked before, are any of us free when some of us are not free?

finally, i chose some music that reminds us that true freedom is not found in a government or in a few days off from work. real, true freedom is found within. it is actually felt with we are willing to let go, to go with the flow, to trust + surrender that all will be well. that doesn’t mean that we don’t act to create freedom, but the deepest sense of freedom is not something that can be taken away – no matter where we are or what is happening around us.

are we being held captive by the conditioned habits of our own mind? why, of course we are. so, it’s high time that we rebel against that which holds us captive, that which does not allow us to be free to be who we are. we are on a quest for liberation… this is our spiritual calling.

it’s time to break free. to reach a deeper deep. a higher high. to leave behind our old ways of living and let a new way of living usher its way in, letting ourselves be set free. for what? we most likely do not know. but, we can shift. we can live life. we can embrace freedom of our soul – and, when we have done that, and when we have helped others embrace their souls and worked to make life a little more just + equal for everyone, then… then we will be free.


i went back into history to pull out my title for the july playlist. the word elysium come from latin + greek. it is used in greek mythology and it means “a state or perfect place of bliss”.

in other words, a place of true freedom.

so, for july, we are focusing on our physical places of bliss and our spiritual states of feeling bliss + peace. the places where we feel free. like everything is finally as it should be. where we feel at one with the world. where we remember that we are called to fight for each others’ freedom, even as we seek our own.

as you listen to this month’s playlist, i wish you lots of moments of celebration, joy, bliss, inspiration and freedom. below is a list of the songs + artists. you can click on the photo above (or –> here) to  get to the playlist on spotify. be sure to follow the playlist too! enjoy!

onwards + upwards! oo

The Wanderer – Shawn James
Down to the River – Brown Bird
Forever Young – Fast Version – Bob Dylan
I Will Rise – Cattle & Cane
Left for America – Ciaran Lavery
I Feel Free – Cream
On Trees And Birds And Fire – I Am Oak
Waiting For The Sun – Simon Erics
Old Ties and Companions – Mandolin Orange
A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke
Juli – Björn Olsson
Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
Don’t Let It Get You Down – Johnnyswim
All I Need Is You – John Newman
Elysium – Bear’s Den
Just One Day – Mighty Oaks
Release – Elephant Revival
Fireflies – Hearts & Colors
Walking In the Sun – PANG!
Wide World – Blessed Feathers
My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit
See the Light – Matrimony
Gold In The Summertime – Matt Nathanson
House By The Sea – Moddi
A Change is Gonna Come – Ben Sollee
Violently Wild – Horse Feathers
Redemption Song – Bob Marley & The Wailers
I Followed Fires – Matthew And The Atlas
Woodland – The Paper Kites
Victory – Trampled By Turtles
On My Way – The Melodic
Break the Cycle – The Vespers
My Oh My – Punch Brothers
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
Glory (From the Motion Picture Selma) – Common, John Legend
Freedom – Richie Havens
We Shall Overcome – Pete Seeger
Om Nashi Me – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd


40 | june 2015 : a playlist for long days of love + laughter

for me, this june is going to be filled with people and love and long days. friends from all around the world are visiting us, we are celebrating a wedding in the family, and it just feels like it’s the perfect time to celebrate and have a month long love fest. so, i wanted to create a playlist that reflects just that. great times, with great people, celebrating great love.

in addition to that, in sweden, we come to the high point of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. it’s the time of year when the days just seem to last forever, the sun barely sets, and it makes for the perfect setting to celebrate late into the day.

it is the time of year when the sun is the center of our existence in the northern hemisphere. these are days meant to be spent outside, soaking up the light that fills the sky, letting the sun fill our souls with warmth and magic and power. it’s a month to celebrate life. to feel alive. to let the magic of the sun inspire and empower us.

and, while i will be celebrating and loving and living with my swedish family as summer begins, i will be missing the beginnings of summer with my family in the states. but, that’s how it rolls in this crazy, international life that i live.  so, my photo for the playlist is one i captured last june at the beach in north carolina with my family. celebrating the tradition of setting off our own fireworks, late at night, right on the beach. a tradition that spans over 25 years.

since i’ll be missing that tradition in my life this year, which hurts my heart, i will look to the present day and all of the love + laughter + joy that surround me in the present moment. i will create new traditions and follow some of the old, ancient swedish summer traditions as well. even in the midst of uncertainty and regular life, i will celebrate that life is filled  love and peace. and, there is no better month to celebrate all of the love and people and life that exists than the month of june.


whether it is picnics, bonfires, late night walks, bbqs, days by the water, dances around a midsummer pole, lazy days on blankets in the grass, or fireworks at night,  june is a month to share with others. to let the sunshine inspire and enliven our souls. it’s a time to celebrate love + life.

i hope that this playlist brings you feelings warmth + bliss. i hope it makes you feel like dancing one minute + laying in the sun the next.i hope it inspires you to remember the ones you love + brings you laughter + joy. more than anything, though, i hope that your june days are filled with peace and music and a simple love for everyday life, for just being alive.

so, go ahead. click on the photo above and follow the link to the playlist on spotify. and celebrate your life!

onwards + upwards! xoxo


40 | april 2015: a playlist for free spirits

it’s playlist time, folks!! another month has come + gone, and i don’t know about you, but i am ready to welcome april with open arms.

i just have to say, i am so humbled + excited that many of you have started exploring the playlists that i have created as part of my turning 40 playlist project. each month, as i create the lists, i feel so energized + inspired. i think of a theme, or usually it seems to be something obvious somehow, and then i just let the songs come to me. sometimes i search around, sometimes i’m inspired by something i hear out + about, but one thing is for sure, i truly, truly look forward to putting the list together. then, when it is complete, i’m like a child on christmas eve, waiting to reveal it to you all – and to begin listening to it myself.

what i am really trying  to say is THANK YOU! thanks for listening + following + inspiring me. next month, i am looking to do a collaborative list, though i don’t know the theme yet. so, be on the lookout for me asking for your help and advice. i think it’ll be fun to create a list together.

in the meantime, let’s focus on april’s playlist! i knew that i wanted it to be nature-centered. so, it is very earthy + celebratory. it’s all about nature, outdoors, being free, and feeling alive. we have weathered the winter, those of us in the northern atmosphere, and life is slowly returning to earth. i personally, have been stuck in my head and wrapped up with myself a lot, and i know that it is time to just live life a bit. to get back to basics and channel my inner flower child. so, i’ve mixed in some upbeat, fun songs and some peaceful, thoughtful songs. all of them make me want to get outside, take my shoes off, lay/run in the grass.

yes, this month is all about channeling our inner bohemian self, our inner nature-lover. it calls to mind cool, magical nights under fairy lights + stars, warm, sunny afternoons reading under a tree, long walks in the late setting sun, rainy sunday afternoons and bursts of color painting us a beautiful world. i’m thinking that freeing my inner bohemian nature is exactly what i need in april. join me!

click below for the playlist:

link: 40 | april 2015: a playlist for free spirits

Wherever Is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile
See It For Yourself – Sugar & The Hi Lows
Come Away – Handsome and Gretyl
Open Your Eyes – Handsome and Gretyl
She’s Like the Swallow – Cara Dillon
Fuel The Fire – Sarah Jarosz
King of the World – First Aid Kit
In Our Talons – Bowerbirds
Overcome With Light – Bowerbirds
Vines – Lost In The Trees
The Foothills – Sara Watkins
Apple Blossoms – Blessed Feathers
Wild & You – My Bubba
Rise – Eddie Vedder
Ducks On The Pond – Rising Appalachia
Sun It Rises – Fleet Foxes
Don’t Let It Get You Down – Johnnyswim
You and Me – Sara Watkins
Land of Opportunity – A Great Big World
Pull Down The Moon – Cattle & Cane
Bloom – Bonus Track – The Paper Kites
Ring Them Bells – Sarah Jarosz
Mountain Sound – Of Monsters And Men
Wide World – Blessed Feathers
Wide Eyed Immigrant – The Greencards
The Morning Bird – Carolina Story
Flower – Amos Lee
into the wild – Lewis Watson
Follow You Anywhere – Monica Heldal
Woodland – The Paper Kites
Here Today – Aloe Blacc
Windows Are Rolled Down – Amos Lee
Map Of The World – Monsters Of Folk
Don’t Let the Sun Steal You Away – Bear’s Den
Live And Die – The Avett Brothers
Core of Nature – Midlake
Rivers And Roads – The Head And The Heart
Silver Moon – Roo Panes
Leaf Off / The Cave – Jose Gonzalez
Down To The River – The Duhks

la vie boheme! xoxo