whenever september comes around: my season for rebirth

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ― Mark Twain

41 septembers ago i was born. 8 septembers ago i felt as if i was reborn. and this september? well, i feel as if i am being reborn once again.

is it possible to be reborn multiple times in a lifetime? some, even many, would disagree with me, saying that a person can only be born again once. but, that’s just sad, i think. i’m not sure i could handle knowing that i had been born again, or reborn ( i like that word so much better), and with that one rebirth i was done. what would be the point of the rest of my life? why even bother living if being reborn meant that i had acquired everything i needed to be a complete human being, that i had already reached enlightenment, so to speak.

no, that’s not how i see life. instead, i see it much more like a lifelong transformation. a long adventure, where the destination isn’t even really that relevant. it’s really all about the journey all along the way.

when you think of it, all of nature is a cycle of rebirth, life, death, and then rebirth once again. we’re wired for growth and transformation. it’s organic. natural. authentic.

if life is a journey, then multiple births must be possible. they just signify the milestones and growth points that we pass along our way. but, they signify very, very important ones.


in the background, as i have been doing my regular old blogging, enjoying summer, having adventures, and soaking up the people + moments of my life, i have also been doing some intense internal work.

it all began when i did 21 days of mantra meditation. like, i repeated out loud a different mantra every day for 30 minutes each day. it was powerful. there was no sitting quietly, meditating in silence. it was active, use my voice, feel the vibrations in my body, mantra-ing. and it was uncomfortable for one day. the rest of the days i felt energized, focused, and way more in touch with my soul than any other meditation series has ever given me.

i also have enjoyed a series of kundalini yoga passes that have been focused on the chakras. again, the movement, the focus, the hour-long yoga passes have inspired me + gotten me in touch with my soul more than ever before.

and i did all of these things at home. for free. by myself. i’ll leave you links to the 2 series (one on spotify + one a podcast) at the bottom of this post.


somehow, these active times of meditation, separated by a 3 week period of vacation time with my love, my brother + friends, have opened my understanding and my flow. they have been the closing moments of spirituality at this time of my life. my soul, my life, has naturally flowed from learning, listening, and discovering to living and doing.


my rebirth means entering a new phase of my life. the groundwork has all been laid. the source of my empowerment from within has been tapped. there is nothing left to do but to leap forward and live all that i have been learning.

september + rebirth

so, here i am at the beginning of another september. ready to celebrate another orbit around the sun. in awe that i’ve had the joy and honor to live yet another beautiful year filled with ups, down, mountain, valleys, beautiful sites, terrifying moments, confusions, and moments of bliss. and ready to embark on yet another year of circling the sun. of becoming a little more of who i am created to be.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

on this first day of september, however, i feel something different. a feel a kind of rebirth again. of making another great step into living an authentic life, of not discovering my soul, as i have been doing for the past 8 years, but of learning to live from my soul.

the other day, just before the full moon, a kindred spirit friend of mine, stacy, posted a link to a website that has some “wisdom readings”. kind of like a horoscope, i think. just for fun, i clicked on the link and this is the reading that i received:

beginnings and endings; shedding identity; lunar rhythms; cycles; fresh start; letting go; the only constant is change

The snake bites its own tail, creating a circle that cycles on forever. The end meets the beginning in a rhythm that never stops, is always spinning.

The Rebirth card beckons with a chance to make a fresh start. You need to let go of the old to welcome the new. But through it all you will still be you. The waves of life rise and fall. Go ahead: ride them all.

shut the front door! that could not have been any more spot on. for how i feel in life. for the upcoming celebration of my 41st birthday. for all of the new things that i am undertaking as autumn is beginning. i was totally blown away. and it was a complete affirmation of this feeling of being reborn, once again, in my life.

what comes next

autumn is practically here. september is here as of today. it is the season of beginnings. of gathering the fruit of our planting. of reaping what we have sown. of focusing and getting to work. of embracing the season of finding the joy and sacredness in everyday life, in ordinary things, in living authentically, true to ourselves.

8 years ago, right during my last big rebirth, i was in seminary. studying theology and spirituality. i explored all of the ways (from a christian perspective) that we “know” god. how god is revealed to us. i was studying to be a pastor/priest/minister (whatever word makes sense to you). but, i always knew that i would never actually do that.

my heart + soul challenged me to find my own path back then. to not simply take what i learned and use it for myself in my work, but to reach back into my education as a teacher and use all that i was learning to teach + inspire others. but that process of finding my path has taken a while.


back then i felt the call to take all of the religious bullshit that made no sense, and inspire others to see that it’s not about the religion, but about relationships. it’s often assumed that to be religious or spiritual means that one also is holy, above others, closed-minded, untouchable, perfect. that religion + spirituality actually have nothing to do with everyday life.

and i can understand how people feel and think that. religion has done a fabulous job of alienating, excluding, boring, putting up walls, creating rules, and pushing away real life. people get lost in empty rituals or old routines that mean nothing, instead of being given tools and ways of meeting the spiritual in every single little moment of life.

because it is possible, my friends., to live a meaningful, mindful, spiritual life. and, oh how beautiful it is when life is lived like that.

spirituality is not a box. it is freedom. and that, is what i intend to use this next part of my life teaching.

in seminary, i formulated my ideas and beliefs on how we can know that life is meant to be lived more deeply, how we are here to do more than exist, and how spirituality is actually a part of everyday life. the creative energies that connect us all (whether you call them god, magic, allah, tao, spirit, or anything else) move in and among us at all times. empowering + inspiring us, and teaching us to live life from our soul. and when we do that, then we are in creation with each other + the whole world, making a difference, spreading love + light.

i want to share + inspire others to find all of the ways to tap into our souls. all of the ways that energy and divine, holy, magical, sacred things show up, helping us to align our lives with our life’s purpose. inspiration is found + created in scriptures, traditions, experience, books, words, people, art, places, stories, music, nature, religions, science, mystery…


i believe that we are all searching for a deeper way to live life. and i have found a way of living with the mystery and magic – of learning to be, love, and live. how to follow my bliss. of course, my way is not the only way. in fact, my way is only my way for me. but, i am here to help inspire you and others to discover you own way, your own path, your own soul, your own truth.

the one truth that i do know, and i know it from a place that i cannot explain, is that we are all connected. that we are spiritual beings, called to live life as who we are created to be. and all of life is that beautiful journey of discovering + uncovering more of what’s in the depths of our soul, and how those depths are the places where the holy, divine energies of love and peace live.

my commitment

starting with this new month, with this new year of my life, in the midst of this new birth, i have committed myself to two different things which will help me work towards turning my dreams of writing, photography, education, blogging, and teaching into a business. a business that helps to guide and inspire others in finding their own bliss, in listening to their own souls, in living a mindful, intentional life filled with spirit and peace.

yoga mat sat nam rasaya

yesterday i began a year-long training called sat nam rasayan.  in sanskrit sat nam rasayan means “deep relaxation in the Divine Name” or “rise to oneself to the essence of True identity”.  it  is a meditative technique that focuses on the full ability to feel, thus leading to healing, or wholeness. it is a part of the study of kundalini yoga, something that i have practiced off and on for about 4 years now. this is an amazing opportunity to help me in working with myself + with others, in discovering our paths, our souls, and our unique purposes in life.

in october i will also begin a year-long course in life coach training. it will be an amazing year of learning all of the ins and outs of becoming an internationally certified life coach, or as i will say, spiritual coach.

so, in a year, i will be a certified spiritual coach with a certification in sat nam rasayan meditation as well. well on my way of beginning to practically answer my call to minister, guide, teach, and journey with others, as they discover their own souls.

 it is an amazing time in my life. and i am so incredibly blessed.

so. yeah. that was a lot of information. i may have simply written it down for myself. but, if you made it through and read it to the end, then i am eternally grateful for you caring enough to read my thoughts + words.

please know that i am here for you. i will listen to you, just as you have followed and read and listened to me. it’s a mutual give and take.

until next time, dear friends, may the spirit of love + peace fill your souls. may each day be a new experience of birth for you, as you become more + more the person that you were created to be. and may you be inspired by all that is around you, seeking the sacred + holy in the most ordinary of moments.

“The whole life of the individual is nothing but the process of giving birth to himself; indeed, we should be fully born when we die – although it is the tragic fate of most individuals to die before they are born.” ― Erich FrommThe Sane Society

onwards + upwards! xoxo

21 day mantra meditation // click –> here
yoga vision wheels of life chakra series // click –> here

// week thirty four // for the love of routines + rituals

not that i don’t love vacations to the max, because i do. but, i also most definitely enjoy that time of year when the last days of summer seem to be creeping up on us and it’s time to get down to business again.

if you have the luck to live in europe (and maybe australia. just not the united states, i know), then you have hopefully had a long enough vacation that you feel rested and reenergized. ready to tackle all that will be thrown at you.

not only do i feel rested, but i feel re-inspired and so ready to get back to my routines + rituals, the things that keep me and my little world running. i also feel ready to tackle lots of new and exciting projects, possibilities, and opportunities.

yes, for me, life begins again, like a kind of rebirth, with the coming of every autumn. and i am always anticipating that fresh start, clean slate feeling.

of course, here in sweden, summer has had a firm grip on us for  the past few weeks, so there’s more light to soak up before the dark, cold days are again upon us. in addition to beginning to get back into the groove, my love + i have also tried to live it up, having our last little summer flings of warm days and late nights.

here’s a little taste of the rituals + routines that i have welcomed back into my life.

morning rituals: coffee (with milk!). meditation. long weekend breakfasts.milk coffee meditate pancakes home
afternoon routines: bike rides. exercise. walks in the sun. errands downtown.
bikeuppsala hippie van trees workout
evening fun: gazing at the sky, hanging with friends, sunsetsbirds beer sky sunset
weekend freedom: a dear friend visiting from berlin, picnics, bbqs, sunshine, s’mores.

lina me gesine Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset me gesine bbq picnic uppsala

it was a good week of easing back into things. hope you have had a great weekend, and here’s to wishing you a wonderful week ahead filled with lots of good energy + inspired moments.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week thirty three // how to end your staycation with a bang

well, folks, that’s it. summer vacation/staycation has now come to an end. it’s the first monday back to ritual + routine. and, i have to admit, while i am mourning the loss of the last days of adventure + no plans, i am welcoming the joys of returning to regular life. mostly, i am excited about experiencing this indian summer that has taken hold of sweden now, and the anticipation of autumn + all of the coziness it brings.

my last week of vacation was spent on the road adventuring yet again. spontaneous, unplanned days filled with sunshine + fabulous people.

after our weekend in stockholm a week ago, we settled in at home for a few days. two to be exact. just enough time to sneak in some friends + family, and a few zola snuggles. then, we took the train down to norrköping – again! we spent a little time with family, lina and i both got to meet with dear friends of ours (together + separately), did a teeny tiny bit of shopping, enjoyed the august festival, and stayed busy from morning till night.

home again on saturday, but still filled up with activities. and then, on sunday, we made yet another spontaneous trip to stockholm for a free royal philharmonic symphony orchestra concert in a park featuring lina’s favorite singer/performer in the whole world. it was heaven!

so, here are my snapshots from last week! celebrating the end of summer vacation with a bang!

there’s nothing like taking a bottle of wine to a good friend’s home a block away for taco tuesday. am i right?


7 freaking AM train to  norrköping. and a big of coffee.train
hello, beautiful norrköping (fun fact: i once lived here for 3 years)norrkoping
free concert! symphony orchestra plays ABBA!norrkoping-concert
i loved seeing my soul mate, midas
lounged in chairs to watch the meteor shower – and saw some!meteor-shower-august
i got a new (old) bike as an early birthday present! it’s really old, vintage, so retro + lina’s grandmother used it for years. i’m so excited + it’s such an honor to get it.me-bike-retro
simplicity + lovehydrangea-flower
deeee-licious burgers + fries. and good service too… in sweden! burgers-and-bangers
this never happens: an outfit shot. but i just lovelilove my new t-shirt dress.dress-me
sunshine. parks. norrköping. ba-dump ba-dump (goes my heart)norrkoping-park
american friends + bubbles! woo hoo!americans-norrkoping
sunset over downtown norrköpingsunset-norrkoping
country roads take me home – back to uppsalacountryside-sweden-fields
and a stop on the side of the road for some goodies, of coursecountryside-roadside-sweden
home!!! celebrated with some summer drinks made by my lovesummer-drinks-cocktailsspontaneous trip to stockholm! // we waited for the bus with about 100 other people. a bus that never came. so we hailed a cab, jumped in, and two other random women jumped in with us. we split the fee 4 ways + all got to the concert in a flash. loved it!
so many people. so much sunshine. such amazing music.concert-park-stockholm-screen concert-park-stockholm
can you dig it?leisure-suit-man-park-concert
no more travels, zola. we are home now. xoxozola
settling in + resting before the new “year” starts. it’s the autumn semester and even though we are not in school, my mind just automatically resets. ready for new beginnings + new opportunities…sunset-uppsala
B o o m!!fireworks

it feels really great to get back into my routines. my trusty meditation rituals (which were completely non-existent in their regular form during vacation) and new habits (to be blogged about later!). i’ve got lots to share with you all, and i feel so very inspired + motivated right now. a break really does you some good, and thankfully i live in sweden, where a break from the everyday is something that is deemed important to a good life.

stay tuned for new rituals + routines on the blog, including photography, music, travel, and spirituality. plus, i’ve got some very exciting professional adventures waiting in the wings as well. and, then, of course, there are all of the cozy life moments of autumn right around the corner.

wishing you a beautiful week, lovelies. hope that it begins with a bang + ends with satisfaction, love, and peace.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

the art of traveling spontaneously

the older i get, the less i want to plan.

i think that feeling comes from the understanding that aging gives you that life almost never turns out as one plans it. there are unknown paths, unplanned paths, frightening paths, and soul-touching paths all along the road of life.

yes, it’s good to have an idea, a goal, and a dream. but, it is also very important to heed the lesson of the road: the unexpected is a huge part of the journey. and the journey is the whole point (not the destination).

learning to go with the flow, to be flexible, to simply align one’s life with the cycle of energy and movement of the journey of life is a gift. one that aids in teaching us to  slow down, to trust, and to embrace the present moment.

with all of that said, learning to follow the way of life, learning to go with the flow, to relax, and to live in the present moment, accepting things as they come and staying grounded + rooted in the depths of who we authentically are, allows us to live a spontaneous life. a life that becomes full of adventure (even without going on great adventures) and deep meaning. a spontaneous life helps us to stay alert, open, and energized, helping us live life on a higher plane, and in a deeper way, than simply existing. and, seriously, who wants to merely exist?

spontaneity soaks the best out of every single moment. it inspires us to get out of our little boring boxes and try new things. it gives us experiences that we’d never imagine we could or would have.

the older i get, the more spontaneous i become. and the more i reject rigid, planned ways of living. and that goes for my traveling as well.

my love and i woke up last friday morning knowing that we wanted to have an adventure. the sun was shining and it was warm. it was a glorious summer day in sweden. as we had done the day before, we knew that we’d like to take a little trip somewhere close to uppsala. a day trip, we thought.

so, we began brainstorming. discussing. and trying to decide. in the end, we said, “let’s go to stockholm again! and stay for the weekend!”.

so, even though this would be our third little trip to stockholm in 2 weeks, i hopped online and looked for an available airbnb for friday night until sunday. yep. last minute to the max. i found a funky apartment in södermalm (our favorite neighborhood) and sent a request to book. then we waited. and waited. and waited. no response from the host.

we packed our bags, hopped the train, and headed off to stockholm for the weekend anyway. without any place to stay. no worries. it would all work out.

soder-me-and-my-love soder-summer soder-beach soder-waterfront-feet

of course, by 2pm, as we sat by the water in södermalm, just enjoying the view and the weather, we still didn’t have anywhere to stay. and we were both totally calm about it. i finally cancelled the previous request and sent out another. this time i got a response back pretty quickly. “sorry, i am out of town and don’t think i can work it out.”

at this point we still did not panic, but we decided to begin thinking about other options. just about 5 minutes later, i got another response from the host who said that she’d spoken too soon. that, if we could meet her in the evening, she could accommodate us. perfect! airbnb booked!

getting hungry, we strolled around for a while, ate some lunch, ducked into some funky vintage shops, drank some coffee, wandered streets we’d never seen before, spied around peoples’ homes… sneaking peeks at their backyard gardens, and set a date with two friends for later that evening. all the while, taking it minute by minute, the only thing planned was meeting our host at 7pm and then drinks at 7:15.


we made our way to our södermalm neighborhood, hornstull, and walked around a bit before meeting our host. turns out, hornstull was known as the sketchy part of söder just a while back. if, söder is greenwich village, then hornstull is alphabet city/the lower east side. of course gentrification had already found its way to hornstull a few years back, so its edginess wasn’t quite so edgy. still, it did feel a bit different than other parts of södermalm. which was exactly what we wanted: to discover new little gems + uncover quirky places.

we quickly got a tour of our airbnb apartment, got the keys, and then said goodbye to our host. she had done a fabulous job preparing the place for us at the last minute, and we were ever so grateful.

here’s a little peek at her vintage, funky apartment… with a balcony! (that was our goal with this airbnb visit).

soder-airbnb-kitchen soder-airbnb-living-room soder-airbnb-living-room-2 soder-airbnb-balcony-open soder-airbnb-balcony-1

as i mentioned before, we had a date with two friends for drinks, so we quickly sprayed a little perfume – we’d been walking for hours. and headed out the door for a few beers just around the corner. then we walked a bit more, getting the feel of the area and, looking up at the sky, realized that we needed to walk out on a nearby bridge to catch a view of the gorgeous sunset.

soder-harbor-sunset soder-sunset

saturday morning came and we both were practically giggly due to the fact that we had slept with the doors to the balcony open! what a luxury! we laid in bed for a while, discussing our day. making no plans whatsoever except to go get breakfast. it’s like we were completely drawn into the spontaneous, living in the moment world. what a gift it was.

soder-airbnb-bedroom soder-breakfast

the rest of the day we literally took it as it came. we made decisions to turn on this street or stop in that café as we felt the urge to. there was no agenda. no time frame. it was pure vacation mode all the way. and we remarked how blessed we were.

soder-street soder-lina-fika soder-second-hand-building soder-sticker-street

after wandering the streets and we decided that we did have one mission: to find some shoes that we were both dying to have (different shoes, mind you. we don’t match our shoes! hehe!). no luck in the shoe hunt, but we did manage to cover pretty much all of södermalm. like for realz.

on our way back towards the hornstull area, where we were staying, i decided to take us on the outskirts of the west side of the island, by the water. we walked and walked and walked. so much so, that it seemed that our legs were just on autopilot after a while. yes, our feet were so tired.

but, the views were so totally worth it. and to discover that there were food trucks all along the way… priceless. and serious asheville vibes too!

soder-harbor soder-food-truck soder-water-good-truck soder-food-trucks

tired and hungry, yet completely relaxed and satisfied, we made our way to a place to eat beside the water… brooklyn bar. we were 2 of the first 4 people there. but, soon after we arrived, people started filling the colorful, outdoor booths on the waterfront. we ate burgers + drank beer + acted silly.

soder-beer soder-dinner-lina-me soder-brooklyn-bar

lina me beer

dreading the short walk back to our apartment because of our tired little legs and feet, we wound our way through a couple of blocks and found this fantastic little cut through bridge that got us back to the apartment faster. plus, it was more scenic. and i saw tons of places to explore the next time i visit this area.


back at the airbnb apartment, we had some beer chilled in the fridge, popped open the bottle and plopped down on the balcony. we sat there from about 7:30 through sunset and until the stars came out. we listened to music, mostly the soundtrack to the musical rent. and chatted with each other. pure simplicity with my love.

soder-airbnb-balcony soder-balcony-sunset-2 soder-sunset-balcony-1 soder-balcony-sunset-3 soder-balcony-sunset-4 soder-balcony-sunset-5

sunday morning after we tidied the apartment and left the keys, we made our way back to mariatorget (where our previous airbnb experience was). we headed to blooms, a cozy little cafe with fun outdoor benches for people watching + breakfast eating.


all full of fresh-baked bread and coffee, we hit the streets again. this time with the mission to complete our shoe hunt, which ended up taking us all over stockholm, only to find ourselves back where we started earlier in the weekend. oh well. no worries. we just went with the flow, you know?


satisfied with our shoe purchases (yay!), it was time for a beer at our favorite little microbrewery, omnipollos hatt. we drank some local beer, perikles (a rustic pilsner) + leon (a belgian style pale ale with champagne) and then decided that, since the sun was shining + we were hungry, we’d order 2 more and a pizza. yep.

soder-lina-omnipollo soder-pizza-omnipollo

soder-monks soder-me-omnipollo
finally we decided to return home and to our little zola the cat. so, we made the 40 minutes train ride and were home in time to do some netflixing and snuggling with the kitty cat. and, of course, to document yet one more beautiful uppsala summer sunset.

sunset uppsala summer

you know, i’ve always had a spontaneous soul thanks to my parents giving us so many opportunities to spontaneously have a bbq, travel somewhere, or rearrange the furniture in our entire home. but, i do believe that my spontaneous soul grew even more after this amazing, beautiful, fun weekend with my love. it really just doesn’t get much better, friends.

and, when you’re spontaneous, you never know  just how good it might be!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week thirty two // my swedish staycation + a mini city guide

when you live in sweden and apply for swedish citizenship, then you have to send in your passport with your application. due to the fact that i sent my passport in back in april and have just now heard that it is a waiting period of a year to get an answer to your application, lina and i haven’t been able to travel anywhere out of the country this summer. (yes, i can ask for my passport back, but it seems to stop my process and i’m afraid to lose my place in line).

in any case, this has been a blessing in disguise. yes, i have travel fever. yes, lina does too. but, the thing is, we want to travel to other places in europe and back home to the states. but we can never do both. it is a deeply complicated decision to make…. home again or someplace new? get my drift?

with the absence of a passport right now, the decision has been made for us. travel within sweden. and travel only an hour or so away from home. little trips. day adventures. weekend excursions.

oh, yeah, i’m all for the big, exciting, exotic trips. all. for. them. but, this has felt like the perfect little balance right now. it’s good to remember to take advantage of and appreciate what you have around you. and, to top it all off, we’ve been super duper spontaneous, which also feeds my gypsy soul.

so, while i once dreamed that this summer would get me back to asheville for a bit (and i still ache for that), it has turned out to so far be a wonderful swedish staycation. we have been on our staycation for 2 weeks so far, and have one more week to go. here’s how we spent our middle staycation week:

we started off our week in södermalm, the funky greenwich village-like neighborhood of stockholm. we had been there during the weekend for the pride parade, and monday was our last morning in an incredible airbnb apartment. after checking out and wishing our hosts a great move to LA, lina and i hit the streets to find some breakfast + do a little vintage shopping before taking the train back home.

soder-morning-coffee-window soder-buildings soder-coffeebar soder-cafe-breakfast soder-shopping-vintage

back home in uppsala, we woke up + decided we wanted to play putt putt. so we did. it’s always fun to relive your childhood, isn’t it?! by the way, i suck. but, i still had fun!uppsala-putt-putt uppsala-putt-putt-me uppsala-putt-putt-lina uppsala-putt-putt-me-ball
long walks by the river + sitting on the docks.uppsala-river
fresh summer salads + eating outside for almost every mealuppsala-salad-home
popcorn, beer, and netflix nightsuppsala-popcorm-home

i started finally getting into vacay mode and waking up late-ish. one morning, as i rolled over and opened my eyes, my love immediately said, “wanna go on an adventure today?”. well, of course i did! so, we took a bus about an hour out of the city to the little town of sigtuna.

sigtuna is sweden’s oldest, first city. their motto is “where sweden begins”.  in fact, the city was founded in 980. for real.  it’s filled with ruins, medieval castles and churches, rune stones (memorial stones), and viking vibes. and of course, today, it’s old buildings are  filled with cafes, stores, and cozy places. oh, and it is on the water, making this the perfect summer day destination. we had no plans, no agendas, nothing on our minds except exploration + discovery, seeing where the minutes + hours led us.

we did get a few amazing recommendations from a fellow uppsala blogger/artist/illustrator who grew up in sigtuna. it’s always soooooo great to get tips from people who know about little hidden gems or the best of the best. so, other than her awesome tips, we just walked and took things as they came.

sigtuna-bus sigtuna-fields

the city hall, which is also a cute little museum + information areasigtuna-city-hall
stora gatan: the medieval center of the citysigtuna-main-street
boutique knocks: loved the stuff in here!
sigtuna-lotions-shopping sigtuna-shopping sigtuna-alley sigtuna-old-street
rc chocolat: the best hot chocolate aroundsigtuna-rc-chocolate sigtuna-rc-chocolates sigtna-rc-hot-chocolate sigtuna-bike
down by the harbor: boats, restaurants, + waterfront pubssigtuna-harbor sigtuna-restaurant sigtuna-water-bar sigtuna-flower sigtuna-lina-alley
farbror blå: a pub in the city square. and a chance to have some local beer, of course.sigtuna-lager
we hunted rune stones (memorial stones from the 11th century) are located all throughout the city. there are more here than anywhere else in sweden!
explored st.olof’s church ruins: a medieval place filled with secrets + mystery from the early christians in the area. i could feel it. amazing.sigtuna-ruins-church sigtuna-ruins-shadows sigtuna-ruins
i just had to erect my own little cairn as a memorial, in honor of all of the history + beauty around me.sigtuna-sacred-rocks
there was even a labyrinth in a city parksigtuna-labyrinth
we took off up a short trail into the woods and stumbled upon a stunning view over the city + harborsigtuna-mountain sigtuna-lina-me-view sigtuna-nature sigtuna-me-view sigtuna-view-tingsberget sigtuna-view
historial + nature exploring done, it was time for fika at tant brun, a cozy, very old-fashioned cafe in a home from the middle ages. so freaking cool.
summer feelings to the maxsigtuna-waterfront sigtuna-waterfront-bench

it was an incredible day, complete with fikas, window shopping, beer, hot chocolate, good eats, amazing views, ancient + mysterious ruins, history, and summer feelings galore. we even managed to get an extra hour in sigtuna because we missed our bus back to uppsala – well, we saw the bus, but were  standing at the wrong bus stop, so it drove right by us. hehe.

we arrived home again, just in time for sunset and rested our tired, but satisfied souls on the sofa for a while as we talked about possible adventures for the next day! and, i suppose you have noticed that summer has finally arrived in sweden! thank you, august!

liz’s mini sigtuna city guide

*based only on my little day experience + the things i saw and did. there is so much more to do + see. these are just my tips on some fun places i discovered in about 8 hours. hehe.

to do:

wander down stora gatan // this is the main street. the buildings are old + crooked, left over from the middle ages, but they are filled with cute, quirky, fun little shops of all kinds. take your time and just window shop. i couldn’t stop imagining the street hundreds of years ago and what it must have been like.

follow the rune stone trail // (you can find a map in the tourist center on store gatan) // explore + discover the memorial stones that wealthy people left back in the early middle ages. there is even one w=that a man erected for himself. ha!

visit the ruins // st olaf’s church’s ruins are located just a street behind the city hall in the town square. wander through the cemetery and then gaze up at the old early medieval building in ruins. how many secrets + mysteries does that place hold? i just had to touch the wall and let the vibes run through me. so powerful and amazing. just so you know, there are two other ruins in the area, i believe. check them out too!

hang out by (or on!) the water // there are places everywhere to just sit and enjoy the view. or, if you are daring, try some paddle boarding in the summer. they have rentals right there in the city park by the water.

fika (coffee + pastries):

rc chocolat // a typical kind of cafe, but with handmade, eye-popping chocolates. we had hot chocolate, which was recommended to us. i had the dark chocolate + lina and the mild chocolate. both were divine. and it was perfect timing because the clouds crept in and made it chilly for an hour or so.

tant brun (old lady brown) // a old-fashioned cafe in a building from the middle ages. it is so freaking cozy. a great place in the summer to eat a traditional fika of coffee and pie in the beautiful, lush garden. but, i imagine that inside beside the fire place would be amazing in the winter. this is a classic must-do, i think. wink. wink.

beer + food:

farbror blå  (uncle blue) // a swedish restaurant in the town square with lots of outdoor seating. the sun’s shining so we drank some sigtuna beer and ate fries. perfect people watching and sunning combo.

våfflan // a popular little cafe + bar at the end of the dock in the harbor. lots of seating, but hold out for a table closest to the water. the view is to die for + it’s fun to watch people docking their boats right there. great local beer. the food looked good, but we didn’t eat any. the perfect summer place.

båthuset krog & bar // i did not eat or drink here. but, it looked so cozy. it’s in the harbor right at the end of the dock, beside våfflan.


knocks boutique // when i walked into the the little shop on stora gatan, even i had to bend down thanks to the old, medieval building. how cool is that? inside there was an eclectic array interior decorating things, clothes, toiletries, jewelry, trinkets, pottery, just tons of fun stuff. and the boutique is so cozy and old, so the atmosphere was wonderful. have i mentioned how old it is?

stora gatan shopping // as i said above, just go in and out of all of the shops. they are all cute and fun. i didn’t see them all, so i’ve got more to explore on my next visit!

guess what, friends?! this post only got us to last thursday. i have more to share with you from my week thirty two staycation – which includes a spontaneous, unplanned, second airbnb trip to stockholm! so, check back tomorrow for yet another post about my staycation + another cozy weekend in stockholm. geez, i love the adventure of last minute decisions!

hope you had a great week and that your weekend was exactly what you wanted. and, if not, then i wish you better vibes and energy as this week gets underway. sending lots of love + light to you all.

onwards + upwards! xo

if you want any more tips about sigtuna, or have questions, or have any of your own tips to share, please leave a comment and let me know! xx

venus retrograde: six weeks to figure out what you love

night sky

something big is happening in the stars again.

back in the beginning of july i eluded to the fact that this month was lining up to be an intense, powerful, inspiring month. i like to call it the summer of love. (read what i said about it –> here).

we’ve made it through one full moon, one new moon, and we have another full moon ( a blue moon actually) waiting in the wings.

but, first, we have what an encounter with venus… you know the goddess of love, the planet closest to us, and boy will this encounter give us an interesting ride.

beginning today, 40 days of venus retrograde begins. (july 25 – september 6)

if you remember, retrograde is when, if you look up in the night sky, it appears that something is moving backwards across the sky. of course, it actually isn’t, but the illusion of it seems to stir up lots of crazy things + powerful opportunities.

back in the late spring, we experienced mercury retrograde, which made things feel all topsy turvy. well, venus retrograde isn’t going to make us feel so scattered + out of control as we were back in the spring, but it will give us an amazing, emotional, intense opportunity to reassess our life.

especially when it comes to love. (makes sense, huh? being the name of the goddess of love?)

when venus turns retrograde today, we are being asked to look at exactly what love means for each of us. i am talking about love of others in our life, self-love, and what we have prioritized in our life.

as kate says: over the next 40 days, “we will have two options: to hide in the shadows and miss the opportunity of a lifetime, or to go after what is inside of our hearts.  it’s not a question of if we will make a big jump—but a matter of when. and there is a push to literally look around and see what truly makes us happy.”


venus is giving us a chance to realign our awareness on love, relationships, what we value and what we’re worth. it’s a mystical, magical and important period that doesn’t come around all that often. it’s a time to reflect on the inner value of your experiences rather than outer display.

it’s all up to us whether we want to take advantage of this time to reflect and realign and take stock on what + who is really important to us. those things that we are most passionate about, that we really truly love, and are advantageous to our lives by helping us to live our truth.

the venus retrograde period turns out to be the perfect time to focus on the quality of life over the desire for financial gain, in other words, we get to decide for oversells what’s more important. money, power, success, security… or an authentic life, love, peace, etc. it’s ok whatever we choose. the point is to slow down just long enough to really think about what we are giving our time + attention to, what we say we love, and see if those two things line up. we are given a chance to reassess our priorities, in our work and in the people that we invite into our lives,  focusing on our inner need for contentment and fulfillment and what/who really makes us happy.

either way, this retrograde period is tempting us to reconsider our approach to relationships of all kinds: what’s important to us? what (and who) do we want in our lives, and why? and more importantly, what we have to offer?

sunset sweden

venus retrograde is a time when we may be forced to re-examine what we consider “worth it.” if we use the next 6 weeks wisely, we will think about the activities, people and things in which we have invested our time, energy, commitment and money… and if what they are giving us are the rewards we thought we had bargained for. not monetarily, of course, but in relation being true to ourselves + following our bliss.

it’s all about continuing to realign ourselves to that path in life where we feel that we are living our truth, living the life that we were called to live. 

again, kate says this: “we have to trust all the lessons in letting go of what was no longer serving us. and we have to believe that we have learned a lot about how we want to authentically live our lives.

venus will be in retrograde until september 6th… so take a deep breath, because this retrograde will be anything but casual. it’s all about how deep we can go”

lots of love to you all… and happy venus retrograde!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

two chicks + a chat // episode 1: summer plans


well, my love + i have done something crazy. we made our first vlog (video blog)!

you know, it’s summertime. we’re feeling lazy and creative all at the same time, we love to do stuff together, so we decided to sit down and talk to y’all. lina set up the camera on a tripod, told me where to sit, and then hit record. warning: southern american accent(s) might be heard!

so, here you go. a little fun, awkward summer chat with liz and lina to get your weekend started off right:

thanks for watching! and, just for your info, we thought we’d make this into a little series, so another vlog will be coming to a small internet screen near you soon! more details coming in a few days.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// week twenty eight (part 1) // swedish camp life is like living in utopia

i have so many photos to share this week, that i’ve decided to split them up into two different //week twenty eight// posts. yay!

last week i spent the entire week off the grid. ok. ok. i snuck out to the very end of the dock, or walked through the woods to a high curve in the road where i just might find a tiny bit of service and uploaded a few photos onto instagram throughout the week. but, i only did that once a day. promise. and i didn’t scroll through Facebook, twitter, my email, or the news at all. truly. and, of course, it felt so nice to be away and unplugged.

but, that just means that you have to look through a bunch of my photos all today and tomorrow then. hope you don’t mind. wink. wink.

my love + i headed out a week ago to the swedish archipelago (islands) in the southern part of sweden on the baltic sea. it’s been a yearly tradition in lina’s family since the 70s. but, it’s not just me and lina and the family. nope. it’s about 50-60 people in total. most of whom have been a part of this week long retreat in the archipelago since its beginning 40 years ago.  of course, there are new people who have come along, either through marriage or through church connections (it’s a church camp – but not at all churchy like you might be thinking).

during this week there is no theme. there is no focus. there is nothing that one has to do. there is only the beautiful swedish nature, hopefully sunshine, community living, simplicity, unplugging, good food and lots of coffee, games to play, time to meditate + be inspired, conversations that are both serious + silly + everything in-between. the only thing that is expected of us is to be in the moment, to help out to care for the community, and to find our own little place of inner peace, while sharing life with everyone else.

it is a beautiful, relaxing, inspiring reminder of the only things that are really important: love, people, nature, authenticity, and simply being – alone + together. it is a perfect little slice of the balanced life that i believe that we could all live, all of the time, if we only did.

and this little hippie chick totally digs the communal, intentional, contemplative living that camp life has to offer.

here’s a peek at some of the things that we did (or didn’t do. hehe).

trees-forest-skeppsgarden beach-niece-skeppsgarden beach-rocks-skeppsgarden beach-day-skeppsgarden feet-water-me-skeppsgarden boathouse-skeppsgarden rowing-skeppsgarden cabin-stuga-skeppsgarden yellow-house-skeppsgarden our-room my-view-yellow-house-skeppsgarden campfirde-trees-skeppsgarden campfire-skeppsgarden campfire-lina-me-skeppsgarden question-walk-skeppsgarden hot-dogs-bbq-skeppsgarden family-skeppsgarden camfire-sunset-skeppsgarden meditation-skeppsgarden candles-skeppsgarden games-skeppsgarden me-skeppsgarden ice-cream-skeppsgarden maggie-church-skeppsgarden rain-games-skeppsgarden feet-boots-grass-skeppsgarden rainy-games-skeppsgarden lina-me-skeppsgarden swedish-flag-skeppsgarden

i’ll be back tomorrow with a post dedicated to the amazing, beautiful, breath-taking nature in the swedish archipelago. it is absolutely magical. makes me feel like i’m in a fairy tale or something. until then… happy monday!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

week twenty seven // music + laughter + lots of summer sun

hello everyone! it’s a new week again, and this week i am away on vacation with my wife + our extended swedish family + friends.

we’ve gone off the grid and gotten wild. it’s that time of year when we head out to the archipelago in southern sweden (southish of västervik, fellow swedes). all we do is relax, enjoy each other, eat, have fika, sleep, rest, laugh, sunbathe. pretty much soak up the magical swedish nature and each other.

so, since i’m doing that right now and not actually writing this blog post when you read it, i’m just gonna get right to the photos from a super summery, beautiful last week. enjoy!

monday working coffee fika zola taco working coffee

elton john in concert! we picnicked outside the stage area with a few other people… hehe.picnic uppsala castle elton john picnic uppsala elton john me picnic beer river uppsala uppsala sunset uppsala
an 18 hour stop in norrkōping (our old hometown) on our way to the archipelago

IMG_6859 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset IMG_6871 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset IMG_6888 IMG_6892 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

onwards + upwards! xoxo

the photos are only through friday night because… no phone serve or internet service out in the archipelago. you’ll get those all of  photos when i get back to civilization. hehe. in the meantime, i’ve got a few other posts scheduled for while i’m gone, so check back here on wednesday + friday! happy week, loves!

how an expat celebrates independence day: nostalgia + gratitude


it’s the 4th of july! the day that americans have bbqs + shoot off fireworks like nobody’s business.

it’s such a fun day, a highlight of the summer, for sure. people have taken off from work – usually to take vacations during the week (mind you, europeans, 1 of the only 2-ish weeks of vacation that most americans get in a year – if they are lucky!). so, it’s a day of celebration, family, love, tradition, and pure carefree bliss.

american flag

i have spent most of my 4th of julys at the beach with my extended family. i have vivid, absolutely wonderful memories of this holiday with my family. these summers, these holidays formed me + grounded me.

but, you know, my family is not the only one who celebrates this way. the beaches around the entire american coastline are packed to the gills today. blankets, coolers, boogie boards, fishing poles, surfboards, music, the smell of coconut oil and sunscreen, books, beach towels… these are the things of summer to me. the things of the 4th of july.

beach 121 beach family sitting beach 91

the evening air will smell of grills cooking hot dogs + burgers. red solo cups will be filled with sodas and beer. potato salad, baked beans, chips, and most definitely a desert with strawberriess + blueberries will be eaten.

and then, as the sun sets, people will gather, craning their necks upward to watch the fireworks light up the sky, booming, flashing, making people giggle with sheer delight. it is a night when everyone is transported back to their childhood again.

and it’s the night when my crazy family has gathered for our own little ritual + celebration: setting off our own fireworks on the beach. last year they were so amazing we drew a crowd!


atlantic beach fireworks.

there is just nothing like it.

oh…. i’m feeling extremely nostalgic right now…


of course, this summer, this independence day, i am in sweden. but, it’s not regular day here either. at least not for me + my swedish family.

it’s true, my heart is breaking  because my love + i are not celebrating with the family in north carolina. ok. my heart is crushed, as it always is whenever a holiday rolls around and i can’t be in two places at once.

but, i can’t complain too much. here in sweden, i have just arrived today in the swedish archipelago for a week long vacation of rest, fun, sun (hopefully!). this is a tradition that my love’s family has had for about 40 years now, so i have just traded one family tradition for another.

summer archipelago

so, friends, i will be off the grid + back to nature for the next week. soaking up the magical swedish forests and sea. all i’m gonna do is eat, sleep, rest, laugh, sunbathe, write, and just freaking be.

and yes, i absolutely realize how blessed i am to have such beautiful traditions, places, and people in two different countries that i call home.

today, i wish all of my fellow americans all around the world a happy 4th of july, i send hugs + kisses to my family in the states, and i share with each of you, dear readers, a big ball of energy of love + light.

onwards + upwards! xoxo