school supplies + coffee + nesting at home + breweries

hi blogging friends! well, it’s happening. summer is winding down in the northern hemisphere, and autumn is not far behind. and yesterday marked the beginning of regular, everyday life again for me (and many others in different places). college students, including my love, headed back for another semester of fun, stress, and inspiration. younger students began sucking every last drop of summer fun out of the last 2 days of vacation up here in the mountain cities and towns. my swedish friends and families have now begun the unofficial season of autumn = the long, beautiful summer holidays are over and autumn’s shorter, rainier, chillier days have begun to creep up.

lina at unca

and me… well, i am settling into the beautiful asheville life that i created with lina in the past year. yes, for me, the beginning of these regular, everyday life days are a welcome change. a chance to begin again – but not by completely starting over, by building on all that we have already built here in asheville. i feel totally ready to refocus and use the energy and vibes that i’ve soaked up this summer to push me forward in my writing, photography, and the next step on my journey in life. i feel grounded and ready to fly all at the same time.

studio at home

mostly, it just feels good to be me. to be where i am and to be focused on each day as it comes, following the dreams and hopes that my soul feels.

but, i also feel something a bit different right now. i feel determined. practical. ready to get down to business. in a word, disciplined. in no way do i feel that i’ve lost any spontaneity, i just feel like working my ass off for the things that i love. and i feel like making my life much more streamlined, with a defined purpose to each and every day. not rigid and controlled, but inspired. know what i mean?

meditation

here’s a prime example: i decided to embark on another mediation series that began on august 11. a series on happiness – which seemed cool timing since i just read the book “the geography of bliss” during the summer. to be honest with you all, as much as i enjoy meditating and quiet time alone, i am really really bad at sticking to it. i mean, in a disciplined way. i spend time alone every day, but i just don’t see a meditation series through to the end.

until now… i hope. you see, so far, i have done 9 days of focused meditation in a row. it may be a new record. and, while i have not set a specific time to meditate or made some sort of routine, i have made it a priority. like truly. no computer, phone, or other technological stuff until i have done it. and i have no specific time for all of this – i just know that it is my priority for how to begin my days right now.

fika meetup

asheville brewing company beer

all of this tells me that i am focused right now. that everyday life is not boring, but is exactly what i (we) decide to make it. we only have this one life, and there is no reason to waste time when we have dreams and goals and a purpose. so, it’s time to soak up every single day – whether filled with “regular” moments or “adventurous” moments. if we are living our life for our next vacation or our next big trip or our next wild adventure, we miss the wild, carefree beauty that is also found in the every day. and we end up living our life for whatever comes next, instead of what is. we miss the present moment.

studio at home create

and so, again, i welcome these last few days of summer… when we all settle back into some sort of routine. when the little things that happen in our everyday lives become the building blocks to making our dreams come true. you know, the amazing moments are fabulous and inspiring, but it is the little steps taken day-in and day-out that make us who we are, that make our life what it is.

zola the cat

beer at the laundromat bar and soap

it’s all about the journey – the everyday journey – that’s what makes the memories that become our life.

peace and love xx

back to the beach

from the 1st of july until the 29th of july, i was in sweden – visiting family and friends. celebrating love. experiencing a crazy summer heatwave. seeing and feeling the best that sweden has to offer in the summer – blue skies, hot sun, and gorgeous land & water. i was a tourist, a photographer, and a translator. i spoke swedish with an unexpected ease (after one year of not really speaking swedish). i loved every single solitary second in sweden… but one week ago today, my time in sweden was up.

last tuesday, lina, paige, and i took a 5am train up to stockholm in order to catch a plane back to the states. but, we didn’t travel alone. we brought along two family members with us! our niece (lina’s sister’s daughter) and lina’s cousin, aged 14 and 16 respectively, joined us for their own summer adventure. so. much. fun. they worked and cleaned for a year to save money so they could go. they received birthday and christmas money, and earned their spending money for the trip – and, oh, what an exciting trip for two teenage girls! and what fun to get to see them experience the states for the first time!

since they were going to be with us for 2 weeks, we decided that we’d begin our arrival to the states by hopping in our car and driving directly to the beach in north carolina (where my parents live). my parents were amazing and drove my car to meet us at the airport in charlotte, where we packed ourselves in and started out on a long 6 hour drive on the evening of our arrival.

needless to say i was exhausted, but i pushed through, and we made it to atlantic beach – our final destination – at about midnight or something. after 27 hours of travel. a good night’s sleep, and then we were raring to go… ready for sun and sand and surf.

it was indescribably amazing to see the two girls and paige experience beach life for a few days – especially boat rides and playing in the ocean. the pure joy on their faces was priceless and absolutely beautiful. their giggles were music to my ears.

it was a great 5 days at the beach, but unfortunately, it rained the last 2 days. still… we found ways to relax, have fun, and entertain ourselves. but, soon, our time at the beach was over and it was time to head up to the mountains – time to go home – after 32 days of traveling! and to be honest with you, i couldn’t wait!

sweden sunset arlanda airport airplane silly airplane sweden cozy airplane nyc airplane vogue sound atlantic beach boat atlantic beach boat atlantic beach boat atlantic beach

woo hoo boat my love and me atlantic beach atlantic beach boat atlantic beach atlantic beach atlantic beach shark shack atlantic beach sunset atlantic beach dad atlantic beach sunset atlantic beach sunset atlantic beach cape lookout cape lookout dad cape lookout cape lookout cape lookout corn atlantic beach

rainy day at the beach

nc aquarium nc aquarium pine knoll shores nc aquarium pine knoll shores

jelly fish nc aquarium sweden atlantic beach

 now, we’re all cozy up here in the north carolina mountains, in asheville. doing some shopping, some swimming, and just some being together. we’ve got a week left and tons of adventures planned for the girls, including a trip to tennessee and an amusement park, some time hiking in the mountains, a baseball game, and some fun & cool restaurants. oh, and of course some more shopping!

you know, traveling is amazing, and i am ready to begin to plan my next trip! but, it is also so very nice to be home… in my own cozy bed, living the life that i love. and what’s even better is that i get to share it with some completely amazing people.

love and peace. xx

the perfect summer day in sweden

there are no words to really describe today. so, i’m gonna let my photos do most of the talking. i will tell you that we drove way out into the swedish countryside, to see a very dear friend – my ex-collegue/minister (from the church where i worked when i lived here). her husband passed away earlier this year, and she is adjusting to living life on her own – on their farm. we arrived at her amazing place at noon, where we immediately were welcomed with hugs and a little tour of the farm – i had never made it out there to see her when i lived here, so it was my first time. we met her cows, admired her late husband’s amazing wood workshop – where he passionately loved to work, walked through the grass, and ate a delicious vegetarian lunch outside made with veggies from the neighbors farms.

we sat and talked around the table outside in the shade for hours, listening to the amazing adventures of our friend’s mother back in the mid-1900s, as a swedish woman who refused to settle into the expected, traditional roles of wife and mother until she was good and ready. she was born in the states to parents who moved there looking for a better start, but moved back to sweden when she was 2. however, that american adventurous spirit seeped into her blood anyway.

after lots of stories, some watermelon and chocolate, and just as we were almost ready to take a little trip over to a little lake through the woods, another friend – who is close to my colleague and was such a great support for lina and me when we lived here – surprised us by showing up to join us for the rest of the afternoon.

we donned our swimsuits, prepared a fika, grabbed chairs and towels, and headed to the lake – 5 women – to enjoy this perfectly perfect swedish summer day. we sat, talked, swam, laughed, and just soaked up every little second, completely unaware of time. it was hot out, the sun was glorious, the water was crystal clear, and the trees were deep green. there were even lotus flowers blooming on lily pads. i felt as if i was enveloped in mother nature’s arms the whole time we were there – at peace, connected, grounded, and completely content. and i felt the power of the connection of women, both with these 4 women that i was with, and other women all throughout my life, including my mother and grandmothers. it was a day of celebrating feminine power, i think.

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because this day was so special, and because i will cherish all of the stories, laughter, beauty, and the women that i shared this day with for the rest of my life, i decided to mark a sacred spot with some rocks from the bottom of the lake that paige dug up with her feet. i placed my little sacred monument on the rock that led down to the water – and i left it there – as a sign of the memories and moments that were shared on this perfect swedish summer day – with four totally different, yet completely amazing in the own ways, women who have each made a significant difference in my life.

love and peace.

celebrating love

lina’s sister is getting married today! we’ve been up to our eyeballs in wedding preparations all week long, with, of course, a few breaks for drinks with friends and such. hehe. anyway, the day has arrived and i’m super excited (and nervous!). lina is the maid of honor and i’m the “toastmaster”, along with lina’s brother. it’s gonna be so much fun, but i feel a tiny bit of stress because this tradition of toastmaster is not exactly something we do in the states – hosting a “program” during the dinner time. still, it’s with lina’s brother – and we just feed off of each others’ energy, so it will be amazing!

hopefully the weather will hold out, because the ceremony is beside the water. but, then the rest of the wedding celebrations are inside = party! party! what a fantastic day it will be no matter the weather – it’s never wrong to celebrate love.

oh, yeah! i am also photographing the wedding, along with one of lina’s cousin’s (peter, who was in the states with us and jonas in may!). so much to do! so much fun!!

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happy saturday, lovely people! love & peace.

friends & family are what it’s all about

hi friends! happy monday to you, wherever you are. i am a lucky girl this week because i am at atlantic beach (north carolina) with my family for our annual reynolds beach week. right now, it’s early in the morning and i’m sitting on my cozy, fluffy bed with my love snoozing beside me. a few family members have just begun stirring, so i know that soon  i will smell the first whiffs of the morning’s coffee. birds are chirping on the porch and the ocean waves are crashing right outside my window. i can see the sun’s rays peeking through between the blinds, so i know that it will be a glorious day.

before arriving here this week, though, i had an amazing weekend – filled with sharing moments with friends in our beautiful, funky asheville. the city was showing off its summer finest with a free concert downtown (that happens monthly in the summer) on friday and a super fun solstice/birthday celebration on saturday at a local brewery. it was classic summer goodness.

here’s a peek from my weekend in amazing asheville and a few first night with the family shots from here at the beach:

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you know, surrounded by so much beauty, so many friends, and such a fantastic family – both here and in sweden, and the most amazing wife whom i adore, my life is so full. i give thanks from the bottom of my heart – and i cherish every single, simple, hilarious, beautiful moment.

peace and love. xx

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.

sunshine

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?

wild

  • 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.

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spiritual

  • 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).

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magical

  • 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

simple

  • 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…

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healthy

  • 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

wandering

  • 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

passionate

  • 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