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

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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

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norrköping moments

well, my friends, my month long visit to sweden has now come to an end. it’s so hard to believe. it seems as if time has flown by, and yet, it seems like forever ago i was in asheville. the past 4 weeks have been incredible. however, the two words that keep sticking out in my mind are beautiful and magical.

it has been the perfect swedish summer – never have i experienced a summer like this: sunny, hot, blue skies. the whole freaking time. so, the weather has been beautiful, but more than that, the moments and the people and the sights have been beautiful. and all of that combined with the swedish way of life – a way of life that is a bit slower, a bit more intentional, and a bit more communal – has made all of the beauty also magical. i feel a bit like i’ve had moment after moment of traditional, old-timey, the way things should be, swedish life. a very classic svensk sommar (swedish summer) – with strawberries, sunshine, eating outdoors, lake swims, picnics, walks around town, and gatherings with friends and family.

so, as i am flying back to the states today, i wanted to share with you some moments from norrköping – the city in sweden that i call home, since i lived here for three years. norrköping was our base through the 4 weeks we were here, so we had lots of days of just being, exploring, and meeting friends.

and, though i say goodbye to the city and my family/friends who are live here, i will cherish all of the memories and moments that i have shared with my love, with paige, and with all of the beautiful swedish (and dutch!) people in my life.

it has been an amazing summer. an unbelievable journey. and moment after moment that has taken my breath away.

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happy tuesday, dear ones. the next post, from the states, will be my 1000th post! stay tuned – it’ll be a great big celebration!

peace & love. xx

**all photos that have me in it (except for the last one) are taken by paige.

the magic of sweden’s simplicity.

i’m not sure if this was my fourth year or my fifth year of having the joy of being part of the annual camp at skeppsgården in sweden, but it doesn’t really matter. every year is exactly the same and completely different all at the same time. it’s very much like my reynolds family beach week tradition that my family in the states has had for about 29 years now.

the camp at skeppsgården was started many many years ago by the methodist church in sweden, and it is a place available for people to come and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of the swedish archipelago (islands by the sea) and the beauty of gathering with friends & family year after year. lina’s grandfathers, both methodist ministers like my grandfather, were a part of beginning this week-long tradition of renting the camp for their congregations and friends/family year ago, and the tradition and been passed on and carried down by lina’s parents and family.

skeppsgården, for lina, is that thing that has been a constant in her life for as long as she can remember (she was only 6 weeks old when she at tented her first week in 1984). and while i’ve only been a part of it for 4 or 5 years, i feel that history and connection, and i can understand it very well, because of my family’s own traditions. so, now i have my family’s beach week tradition of 29 years and lina’s family’s camp tradition – both constants in my life.

it’s so important to have these places and people and times in our lives, i believe. they give us (me) a sense of grounding. a reminder of who we are – and that, even when life changes and moves on, there is a ritual, a sacred space, a certain, special spot that touches our soul like nothing else.

so, skeppsgården has become a place like that for me. my first year there i had no idea what was going on, what people were saying, or anything about anything. it was all so, well, foreign. then, there came a few years that i “worked” the camp, seeing as i was one of the ministers that was to led some of the group discussions/worship services. and this year, after being away from sweden for an entire year, it felt as if i had come home. this year, skeppsgården was my home. i now have my own traditions, feelings, memories, and special places that are tucked away in my heart. i know the people, i can speak the language. what i am saying is, this place is now a part of me. i am not just a participant or observer, but i belong.

and that, my friends, is amazing. i give thanks, once again, for the beauty of having two places, two countries that i call home.

now, it’s time for me to finally share with you some photos of this magical, beautiful place – where life is simple and easy and all about community. enjoy!

DSC_0342 skeppsgården water archipelago water sweden path camp teenagers dock summer archipelago canoeing archipelago sunset archipelago rowing archipelago oar archipelago lina rowing oar archipelago sunset archipelago our room archipelago trees sunshine skeppsgården house gula huset skeppsgården tree archipelago cabins archipelago stuga gula huset archipelago skeppsgården path archipelago archipelago archipelago archipelago flowers boat archipelago archipelago campfire sunset archipelago market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården market skeppsgården maggie market skeppsgården anders market skeppsgården ego selfie me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden candle tips promenade sweden trees tips promenade tips promenade me sunset archipelago sweden ego me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden full mooon sunset archipelago sweden me sunset archipelago sweden sunset archipelago sweden full moon sunset archipelago sweden friends

here’s to wishing you a sacred place (or two) of your own, where you can just be who you are, where you can connect with your soul and others, and where you can feel at one with the nature that surround you.

peace and love.

rocky coast sweden

crossing sweden: coast to coast

hello! well, it’s been a whole week – or more, actually! – and i’ve been totally off the grid. no telephone. no internet. no nothing. only the bright blue swedish sky, the hot yellow sun, the shimmering baltic sea, and the dark green forests hugging the swedish archipelago. it’s been like living in a little sliver of heaven for a week – a little taste of how life is supposed to be lived, within a community of friends and family, laughing together, working together to take care of one another, and enjoying the peace and joy of simply being with each other and with ourselves.

however, before i show you the photos from my little place of bliss, i have a few road trip photos to share. before we ended up at the archipelago last sunday, we drove from norrköping (home) on the east coast to gothenburg, on the west coast. we left norrköping on saturday and headed toward gothenburg to watch our niece and lina’s cousin complete their confirmation – a big rite of passage in sweden. so, saturday was a little road trip day – complete with a roadside fika. how swedes do rest stops. we arrived in gothenburg mid-afternoon, which gave us a chance to explore the city with paige, who’d never been there before. fun times.

road trip car jonköping fika

ego me self fika fika

we strolled the streets of this city that i love, popping in and out of shops, and enjoying the super warm temps that were moving into sweden. we met an old friend for dinner, and then headed out of the city to a camp-retreat center where we were going to spend the night – for free! you gotta love connections, huh?

gothenburg

now this little camp lies only about 30 minutes outside of gothenburg, but when you are there, you feel completely immersed in a simple, slow life. even if you are staying for only a night. of course, just a short walk (and an even shorter drive) from the camp lies part of the west coast’s archipelago –  a rocky coastline and harbor, which reminds me a bit of maine’s coastline in the states. we headed over there to enjoy the scenery and give paige a taste of what was to come in the upcoming week at the swedish archipelago back on the east coast.

for our one night outside of gothenburg, however, it was a mostly cloudy, but warm summer night of endless light. it was just the perfect thing to get me excited about our upcoming week deep in the swedish nature.

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self timer west coast

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on sunday, we woke up and drove back into gothenburg for the confirmation ceremony/worship service at the church where i first met lina – so many good memories there. i’ll admit that being there stirred many feelings inside of me, from missing my grandfather, to falling in love with lina, to connecting with my past as a minister and a long-time methodist. all of the feelings were good ones, i might add. nostalgic and happy.

after lunch, we headed back on the road – this time from the west coast back to the east coast  – it only takes about 4-5 hours to cross sweden from coast to coast. nothing like what it takes in north carolina. hehe. however, it took a bit longer for us because, after the usual fika break on the side of the road, we noticed a weird sound outside the left windows in the car. we pulled over, and what do you know. a flat tire. luckily swedes can do anything – the perk of being a country full of practical and always prepared people – so it didn’t take long until we were on our way again. yipee.

road trip sweden flat tire sweden

then, finally, after criss-crossing the country twice in two days, a little mini-camp break, a less than 24 hour visit to gothenburg, and a chance to see the west coast a bit, and a flat tire, we made it to our destination:

skeppsgården! – the camp in the archipelago by the baltic sea that we visit with lina’s family and friends every summer. oh, i can’t wait to share with you the beauty that is this place. there is no week like camp week here in sweden.  if you just can’t wait, though, to see what it looks like, then you can always sneak a peek at some blog posts from the past few years: just click here and here.

trees skeppsgården sweden

love and peace, dear readers. xx

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how to conquer jet lag: fun!

woo hoo! the fun has already begun! in fact, i was telling lina this morning that i’m gonna need a vacation from all of the excitement and fun that’s been going on since the beginning of may – it’s been so intense and so much amazingness. hehe. but, seriously, it takes my breath away when i think of all that i’ve done and all of the people i’ve been able to spend time with. so incredible.

well, i’d say that my jet lag is almost over – maybe. but, i haven’t had time for any jet lag anyway, we’ve been going almost non-stop since getting here. ok. we did take a two hour nap after we arrived. but, we went right into exploring downtown the next day and even a bachelorette party! lina’s sister is getting married while we are here, so we kidnapped her and took her out for an evening of drinks, hot tubbing, dinner, and more drinks. it was so much fun to be a part of a new swedish tradition, as i’ve never been part of a bachelorette party before.

for the 4th of july and we headed over to our super fun american friend’s home to celebrate with a bbq. my dear, amazing friends from the netherlands (who also live here) were also there, so i am still overwhelmed with excitement and joy from seeing them! it was unbelievably amazing to hug all of their necks after a year.

so, you see, with all of the fun and craziness, i’ve just had to push right through my exhaustion from the time difference. jet lag? psha! i defeat you jet lag!

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now, we’re off to our annual family camp in the swedish archipelago! it’l be a week totally off the grid. completely immersed in nature – with nothing to do but enjoy the scenery, eat food, catch up with friends and family, and literally just be. so, dear friends, i wish you a good week ahead – and i’ll post again next weekend! be safe and soak up every little moment wherever you are.

lots of love and peace to you. xx

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the first cozy evening

it’s wednesday evening and we have landed safe and sound in sweden. we’re all settled in at lina’s parents’ home, ready for our vacation to begin – receiving so many greeting on Facebook and instagram from people who are welcoming us back and making plans to see us sometime in the next 4 weeks. so, now, it’s time for tons of adventures, lots of time with friends and family, fikas galore, a week totally off the grid in nature, road trips and who knows what else we can get into! but, before we get into anything, this girl’s gotta sleep. so, with the sun not even close to setting now at 9:15 pm, i’m closing the blinds, drawing the curtains, stretching out and snuggling under the covers.  you know, it feels quite good to be here in norrköping again. everything’s beautiful, cozy, and familiar – just as i remember it.

sunset/sunrise

photo by lina with my iPhone

night night, friends. peace & love. xx