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a little nature. a little urban. a perfect fix for my soul.

hi friends! long time, no post… huh? geez, i have missed y’all. i’ve missed writing and posting, but i have been super busy the past 4ish days. and i do believe that the busy-ness is only getting started.

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natural, woodsy liz.

this past weekend i was in the woods with the teenagers i work with from friday until sunday. oh, my nature soul was soooo very happy. the weather was quite beautiful as well. sunshine. warmth. and even a bit of cozy rain one of the evenings. we played games, had some little chat hours (i had 3 little workshops on challenging yourself, taking risks, and believing in yourself), did some BBQ-ing, watched a movie, laughed, hung out by a lake, and just enjoyed being together.

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on sunday, we left the camp in the morning and headed to the church. during the morning service, i got to serve communion (always a great, powerful honor), lead the service, recognize some of the youth, and then there was a moment that the congregation said their official “goodbye” to me (though i work until july 15, but people are gone from regular life after midsummer – june 21). it was emotional standing there with those i had worked with standing behind & around me. gaaahhh. as much as i have left places, it never ever gets easier. but, it always makes me feel grateful, amazed, and so overwhelmed to have had the experiences i have had.

as i stood there, listening to the chairperson talk, feeling the people around me, i thought about the craziness that my life has been. the amazing craziness. to get to move to sweden. learn a new language. get a job. in something i am educated for. work with really good people. and have a chance to be me, even though i am in another country. it was in that moment that i felt i needed to pinch myself, to know that i was actually this little american girl from north carolina, with big dreams and hopes, who has had an opportunity to live them out. to follow them, and watch them come true.

the only advice i have for all of you who have even the tiniest dream is to chase it! chase that soul-filling, mind-blowing, seemingly impossible dream to the ends of the earth if you have to. and be patient. sometimes it takes a while for dreams to materialize. for me, it took 15 years to get here. but, it was so worth the ride.  trust the universe. trust god. and trust in yourself.

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sunny stockholm liz.

after my work day (work weekend i guess) at church, i rushed home, jumped in the shower (because ewwwww… i had been camping for some days), and headed for the train station. yep. within a couple of hours of leaving the woods, i was on a train headed to the big city.

my love and i were off to stockholm sunday evening – monday evening. lina had an appointment at the american embassy…. to determine if she would qualify for a visa! sunday night we stayed with a friend, and since the weather was summer-like, we walked to a harbor area with a rock mountain overlooking the water and had a BBQ. it was more perfect than perfect. truly.

monday morning came, and the sun was still shining. we ate breakfast on a balcony and then headed downtown to get lina to the embassy ontime. it was a nerve-racking time, not knowing how things would turn out. things are quite complicated/weird with us… since we are 2 women, married, and bi-national. though lina was applying for a student visa and not a green card (not possible thanks to DOMA and same-sex discrimination), there was still a chance they’d question things. but…. everything went perfectly! and she was approved!

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while she was in the embassy (i could not enter and be with her), i walked. and walked. and walked. and like a tourist, i took pictures every 10 feet. it was such a great morning for me, and i felt guilty for having such a peaceful time while lina was going through an american visa interview.

after celebrating the end of the visa process together at an american restaurant in stockholm, we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering, shopping, and just soaking up the beauty of the city built on islands. then, it was an early train back home and a cozy landing into my own bed after 3 nights away.

all in all, an intensive, but unbelievably amazing weekend! i took tons of photos, of course, which i will post in a few upcoming posts. but, for now, i’ll leave you. we are in 100% moving mode in our little home. time to get down to business. woo hoo!

sending you peace and love.

get out of the boat.

summer 2007

denmark:

the plane touched down. five excited, never-been-to-europe-before university students, a fellow minister, and i found our way through customs, got our passports stamped, saw a smiling & familiar (to me) face holding a “scandinavian caravan” sign at the arrival gate , and were whisked out of the airport and onto a train headed for odense, denmark.

just like that. we were there. after an overnight flight, all of us, with butterflies in our stomachs, sleepy eyes, & silly grins, found ourselves in a foreign country. i found my way back to a place that felt like home. on that amazing danish soil again. i felt my soul glowing inside me. i felt breath filling my lungs as the train zipped by fields of green, crossed Storebælt (the Great Belt Bridge), and passed colorful, old, european buildings. i was really there. i had returned.

of course, i was not just there to be on vacation. i had responsibilities. the youth that were with me were my main priority. this was their trip. their chance to experience what i had, yet in their own special ways, twelve years earlier. i had my heart & mind in the right place. priority one was their spiritual journey. at the same time, i was completely ready for anything to happen. i was totally aware that the experience would affect me & my life too.

the train rolled to a stop in odense. i had never been to this city before, but i was curious & excited. we grabbed our bags, found our way off the train by following the crowd, and saw two, smiling people waiting at the top of the stairs to drive us to our first stop. the methodist church in odense.

the youth were freaking out hearing danish spoken all around us, and not understanding a single word. to me, it sounded like heaven. not because it was danish, but because it was a foreign language… and that sounded like music to my ears. it meant that i was far, far away from the expectations and rules, and embracing my soul.

we arrived at the church and dragged our bags up a little staircase to a room that overlooked the modern blue/green sanctuary. we were greeted by one person after another, always with hugs, smiles, and warmth… immediately feeling like part of the family, part of the church, and completely taken care of. this pattern was to be repeated in each and every city & country we visited.

now. here comes the twist to our odense, denmark visit: ian lived here. yep. after 12 years, there was the possibility of seeing and/or talking with ian once again. to be honest, i couldn’t comprehend this. or even begin to imagine it. i’ll put your curiosity at ease…

the next morning, the youth were invited to be part of the sunday church service. it was their first chance to tell their stories and be a part of a church service in another country. we also heard one of the church’s amazing choirs sing and were extremely inspired by them. and then, it happened. through the crowd of people drinking coffee and chatting with each other, i saw him.

ian was there. we hugged. we chatted. we were nervous. and it was awkward. but, it felt really familiar at the same time. i think we had about 5 minutes to update each other on our lives. married. minister. north carolina. divorced. daughter. odense. and then, it was over. we were headed back to the train station and off to our next city in denmark.

while in the next city, ian called the person’s home where i was staying. he wanted to come & see me. so, during one free afternoon, i met him at the train station in vejle and we walked around for some hours, getting reacquainted. old feelings came flooding back, and confusion set it. i was uncomfortable and energized all at the same time. it was definitely not the same as it had been 12 years earlier, but it was something. but, you know what it really was? it was me, remembering my soul. it was me, hearing someone talk to me again about not being afraid to be me. the afternoon i spent with ian was a push for me, a reassurance that i was exactly where i was supposed to be. that it was time to take back my life. i was certain that i had made the right decision to follow my gut feelings to accept this trip and to even perhaps accept that my marriage was over.

in fact, i had a conversation with the woman i was staying with, anna, about my marriage. we stayed up late every night i was with her, and one night she just came right out and said it: “liz, what if a divorce is what is right for you now?”. her words were a gift from God, a sign and an assurance that my marriage was actually over, and that it was time for me to move on in life. to what, i had no idea. i didn’t even care. i just needed to move on.

so, after 4 days in denmark, my little american group moved on to…

sweden:

we took a train (by the way i love traveling by train) and then a ferry to make the afternoon journey from denmark to gothenburg, sweden. on the trip, i talked with the youth. it was time to process a little of what was happening with them, check on how they felt, what they thought, if they needed anything, if they had learned anything or felt anything. it was a powerful few hours on that ferry… ending up in a conversation about a story found in the bible.

a story about some people (disciples of jesus) who were in a boat. one of them, peter, saw jesus out on the water, standing. he desperately wanted to join jesus out there, so jesus called to him and told him to come. peter looked back at his friends, who thought he was out of his mind crazy, and looked back at jesus, beckoning him to trust and take a leap of faith. standing with one foot in the boat and one foot on the sea, peter decided to risk it all… he got out of the boat.

these amazing youth & i sat on this boat in the north sea, reading this story about a man finding the courage to get out of his boat, and we began to wonder together… what were our “boats”? where were we standing with one foot in the boat of old habits & lives, and one foot on the sea of uncertainty & fear? did we have the courage to risk it all? to get out of the boat?

the image of the boat, of taking a risk to leave the boat, stayed with us all throughout the entire 5 weeks we traveled together. and each of us had something that we could relate it to in our lives. for me, i silently sat and pondered all that was happening in my personal life. it was pretty obvious to me that i had a foot in the boat of the past, and a foot on the unknown future out on the sea. this trip was my present moment. it was my choice. i was in the exact same position peter was in. do i stay, or do i chance it and go?

the answer was easy. i take my other foot out of the boat and walk on water. i risk everything… safety, knowledge, understanding; for the possibility that i just might experience something more amazing than i’d every imagined.

so, on that ferry between denmark and sweden, i stepped out of the boat.

and then, i met my wife.

i’m a travelin’ girl.

this week is crazy. i’m traveling all over sweden for meetings & such with my job. i’m only gone for the day (mostly), which is really good ‘cuz i love sleepin’ in my bed. but, still, it’s a lot. there are a few good things about traveling so much, though… =)

train rides. you know i love them. amazing spring weather (at least today) with blue skies & green trees. and new cities/places to see. and surprise starbucks finds!

well, it’s the end of a long monday now, and i’m on the 2nd of 3 trains on my way home. yay. almost there. (see ya soon, my love!)

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hope your monday has been sunny in one way or another, if even for only a moment.

peace.

snapshots of stockholm.

i just gotta share a few pics from my adventure to stockholm on tuesday. yes, i made it. i survived all the swedish, the new people, the train, the metro, didn’t get lost, and made it back home before the clock struck midnight. it was a great little adventure and a chance to travel, which you know is always a plus for me. speaking of travel, my love & i were trying to sync our calendars yesterday morning and realized that for the next month, things are a little out of control. ok. a lot. but, i’ll get to travel some (feels really good – exploring new places is a plus & really crappy at the same time – i truly love traveling with lina. she makes everything fun, and i find myself wanting to share things with her when i travel alone, only to find that she is not there with me). anyway, here’s what i realized… within a 14 day period i am traveling to 4 different cities all over sweden. whoa. and lina is not going with me on one single trip. boo. but… after all the crazy travel in sweden is over, it’s time for a long, exciting weekend with my love in paris!

but, for now, here are a few snapshots of the swedish capital. stockholm, baby.

stormy skies in norrköping as i walked to the train station. but, check out that yellow bush! the only sign of spring in sight. still, there is hope.

 busy stockholm street.

i had just enough time to grab a chai latte. perfect.

 headed across the street & down to the metro/subway.

so many people. all so different. all in their own little world, yet crossing paths for a few minutes. insanity.

 made it to my destination & discovered this cute little market just before the meeting.

 5 hours later (10pm) & i was back in the not so busy train station. headed home!

well, it’s thursday. and there’s lots to do. hope you have a wonderful day & find some little adventures in whatever you do!

peace out.

baby steps.

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guess where i am?! if you guessed on a train to stockholm, you would be right! today i have grown up a little bit. become a little bit more of an adult. you see, i’m on my way to a meeting (with my job) in stockholm… on my own. now, of course i’ve traveled in sweden & other places on my own before. but today feels different. for one, i haven’t traveled on my own since moving here. and, on top of that, i am traveling for business reasons. yep. my days as merely a tourist in sweden are over. now i am a real, live working resident… with places to go & people to meet. feels good. and freaky.

so, that’s my tuesday. an afternoon/evening in stockholm followed by a super late night train ride home. I may be freaked out about it all, and missing traveling with my love, but i’m making the best of this little adventure. these baby steps to swedish adulthood.

ok. time to gaze out the window & listen to some chillin’ music. have a great tuesday out there, wherever you are.

peace.

last pics from march.

happy april 1st!! i don’t have any jokes for today, but I do have some pictures! no, not from my weekend trip, but from the last three days of march’s photo challenge. i’m riding the train home (cozy times!), but i must admit that i am feeling a little motion sickness. blah. so, i’m just gonna post the pics then close my eyes & enjoy the ride = try not to get sick. hehe.

here ya go.

day 29: feet.

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day 30: toy.

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day 31: where i relax. (cozy bed at my friend’s home… where i relaxed saturday morning.)

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by the way, the april challenge begins today, so look for my first week of pics next sunday! hope you have a fabulous day!! gothenburg pictures soon!

peace out, friends.

first class all the way.

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hanging out here in first class on the train to gothenburg for the weekend. surfing the net for free, sipping coffee, eating chocolate, soaking in the Swedish sunshine warming me through the window. train rides are sooo cozy. just another day in the life… hehe. not really. we never travel first class, but it wasn’t that much more expensive thjs time, so we went for it. and i’m loving it.

inevitably i always hear some english when I travel, and just now i discovered that there are 2 american men sitting a few seats in front of me. it feels so cool when i hear american english, like i’m instantly connected with fellow patriots from across the pond. they are speaking quite loudly, so i am staring intensely. hehe. can’t stop. and there’s also this elderly Swedish lady making tons of phone calls about random things. she speaks very slowly & very loudly, so we all know what’s going on with her. great people watching on a train, if the view outside the windows bores you (which should never happen here – boredom – since the countryside is beautiful!),

anyway, we’re headed to the west coast to visit friends this weekend and just hang out. youknow there will be a little shopping, a little fika, a little wine, and tons of pics. gonna be so great to have 3 days completely off. yay!

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quote of the day:

“the very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. the joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
~ Chris McCandless

wishing you a fabulous weekend! peace.

march photo a day: week 1

as i mentioned in a previous blog post, i’ve taken up the challenge to post a photo a day using my instagram app – the challenge is to not only post a photo a day, but to follow the suggested theme/word for the day. the photos are also to be original photos taken on the day that they are posted (come on, no cheating by uploading an old pic from some file on your computer or saved on your phone.). since many of you don’t have instagram, and i’m not linking all my social media all over the internet, i thought i’d share my photos once a week with you. the first week in march has now passed (seriously? already?) and here is my installment of my original, taken on the given day, following the theme, instagram photos from this week. *smiley face*

day 1: up

zola’s fav morning activity:  looking up at the birdies.

day 2: fruit

riding on the train to stockholm/uppsala last friday, i snapped this shot of an apple. most swedish families are well-prepared with (healthy) snacks when they travel. i am not one of them. well, i’m not swedish either, so that’s my excuse. hehe.

day 3: your neighborhood

 24 hours later, after a day in uppsala, a trip to airport, & a day in stockholm we made it back home. this is my neighborhood at night.

day 4: bedside

hanging out bedside. cozy & warm early sunday morning.

day 5: smile

 my love is all smiles after buying a new keyboard. and i’m all smiles because i get to listen to her play & sing. ♥

day 6: 5pm

 as the moon was beginning to rise at 5pm, we walked home after a day of touring & shopping.

day 7: something i wore

 showing off my new, little, turquoise earrings.

so far, so good. it was fun finding things to photograph. now. wish me luck with following through for next week. and check back next wednesday for week 2’s update! in the meantime, take some time to slow down & notice little moments & glimpses of beauty all around you – take a picture in your mind or snap a photo with your phone/camera. then, share them! i’d love to see what you see from your perspective!

happy wednesday! peace out, peeps.

friday: uppsala! saturday: stockholm!

oh yeah, here come a few pics from the weekend!

a train ride in beautiful sweden.

friday in uppsala.

 a little afternoon coffee break, of course.

 saturday morning. 7:30am. picking up j (who’s visiting us for a week from the states)!!!

 catchin’ up over a yummy breakfast in stockholm.

wandering the cobblestone streets of the old town.

 and wandering the streets of östermalm (the richest street).

it was a gorgeous day!

me & j.

 look. it’s the three of us! (our shadows!)

 leaving stockholm…

 back under the norrköping moon.

it was a great weekend & it’s so exciting to have j here with us for the week!!! how was your weekend? what did you do? hope it’s been good! here’s to wishing you a lovely sunday evening of coziness. for us… it’s a chick flick: “midnight in paris”.

peace.

a tiny little road trip.

helloooo friday!!!

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i’m starting this weekend by blogging from my phone because we’re beginning another little road trip right now. this time we’re headed north to uppsala & stockholm. yeah. and we’re on a train(!)… i totally loooove trains.

why are we headed north? what are we gonna do? well, meet up with some family today, have fika, do some shopping, and head out to a party tonight. and then, bright & early tomorrow morning we’re picking up our american friend from the airport and gonna spend the day going in & out of shops & cafes in stockholm!! on top of all the fun activities, the weather is beautiful (still chilly, but sunny)!!

what are your plans for the weekend?! hope you have a great one and find some moments that take your breath away.

peace & love.