// week thirty seven // the answer is blowin in the wind

happy monday to you! here we are again, at the start of a new week. i still feel as if i am spinning. like life has picked up some crazy, ridiculous speed. and yet, i also still feel quite calm. i am sorry if i sound like a broken record right now. but, it’s just a crazy time for me. so much is happening. so much is changing. life is really taking hold here in uppsala, which is good. at the same time, i have extreme homesickness for the mountains of north carolina.

with everything flying around about me, changing, transitioning, moving forward, i just pray that i stay grounded. that i remain true to myself. that i slow down each and every day.

technically, i don’t feel like that will be a problem, but i am just trying to stay aware. i am trying to really, truly focus on the present moment, even as the present moment is filled with so much that i never imagined.

field blowing

there truly has been a sudden shift in my life int he past two-three weeks. since summer vacation ended. of course, things have changed drastically throughout 2015, as at the beginning of the year my love and i found ourselves moving back to sweden.

yes, so very much has shifted and is still shifting. and it is just taking me a while to adjust. there is much that i don’t recognize, and much that is familiar. ultimately, i’ve spent so long dreaming, planning, wishing, hoping and suddenly stuff is happening. suddenly there is no need to sit + wish. now it’s time to go with the flow that’s quickly flowing, and at the same time stay consciously connected + grounded + aware.

i feel a bit like this photo above. completely secure and yet whipping + blowing in the breeze of a swift wind. i’m safe and being true to myself. yet i am being blown around. but, the reeds, the grass, they inspire me. they remind me that, once again, the ultimate job that i have is to simply stay attached. to keep my heart + head and soul aligned. to listen. to bend. to just be me.

last week, i didn’t take as many photos as i usually do because i worked so many hours. many of the photos i did take i have already shared with you in my blog posts from last week. so, if you’d like to see some of how my week was you can check here, here, and here. today, i just felt like this one photo and these reflections were exactly what i needed.

now, it’s time to get this week underway +  we shall see what other changes come into our life as the days pass. in the meantime, my soul knows that i must meditate. i must sleep. write. eat. enjoy. and stay connected. the energy that i feel is strong. it is a bit foreign to me. but, it is pushing + guiding me into a whole new phase in life.

i admit that, at first, the wind + craziness have felt scary. but, as i remain in the essence of who i am, it all settles down and i become at one with the flow. the answer really is, my friend, blowing in the wind.

video created on saturday on the grounds of the castle in uppsala

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

trust yourself: everything you need is within you

listen to the wind, it talks. listen to the silence, it speaks. listen to your heart, it knows. – native american saying

good evening, friends. i hope that you have had a good weekend. here, in my little corner of the world, i am feeling satisfied + peaceful after sneaking away with my love to atlanta for about 36 hours to refocus + recharge with some good friends (more to come on that on tuesday!). but, now, i am focused on winding down the first week of my meditation mondays series – and it feels pretty good.

me. right now. as i type to you.

me. right now. as i type to you.

last monday i started this new series, and i challenged myself (and you, if you are so interested) in taking a little vision quest journey, as native american children have done in the past. i’m not sure if they still practice this today, but i sure do hope so. in any case, my meditation on monday introduced us to the idea of taking our own quest throughout the week = taking some time to just be + listen to our souls. a chance to reconnect with ourselves + discover to what the universe may be calling us to next in life.

for me, there has been no clear message slapping me in the face this week, rather lots of little things, that, had i not been deliberately trying to slow down + pay attention, i would have totally missed.

once again, my soul reminds me that i am a writer. that all i want to do is write + travel, and travel + write. and, even as things are changing right now in my life (more to come on that at a later date), i am reminded once again to stick to what my soul says.  scary and uncertain as it all may be, my soul knows me.

friends atlanta walking avondale lake autumn

now, before i let this vision quest thing go and prepare to move on to next week’s meditation mondays theme, i want to address something that we all often struggle with: guilt!

all this talk about the soul sounds a lot like me, me, me, me, me! egocentric. self-centered. selfish. but, my friends, it isn’t. not when you focus on yourself in the hopes of growth + transformation. now, only thinking about what we want next or what we want now, is one thing. meditating and turning inward is something completely different, i believe. something that is necessary in order to remain aligned + attached to our soul – because when we do that, when we attach ourselves to our true inner soul, then everything that flows out of us is done with love and compassion. therefore, when we go on a little quest to discover our personal legend or our calling at this time in our lives, then we are seeking ways to be true to who we are, which, in turn, makes us better people – who then make a difference in the world.

the native americans have a belief that life can be described as 4 concentric circles, with the first and inner circle being our self. the next one, our family and community. the 3rd one, the animals + the earth + all of humanity. and, the last one, spirituality. this is freaking genius, i believe.

native american values life

this is my little image that i created to show you what i mean. life begins at the center – at discovering who we are as unique individuals. but, we expand outward. in fact, everything in life is fluid, flowing back + forth through all of the circles, crossing lines, all connected and affected by one another. and, yet, unified as one circle. how beautiful is that?

this week, we went on a quest, a personal journey. starting tomorrow, we will begin to meditate on the next circle – family + community. using who we are, how do we impact those that are closest to us? what do the native americans have to say about the importance of family + community?

but, for tonight, i want to leave you with a bit of music from my native november playlist (see the left column for a link) for inspiration. listen + ponder. and be secure in who you are. you have everything you need within you:

light + love. xx

see you tomorrow for a new meditation!

a video of our road trip: starring paige, lina, me & first aid kit!

there are perks to being married to a graphic design student. and one of the new ones is homemade videos. that’s right, my love has gotten into the groove of making videos  – and she is goooood. so, during our road trip to see first aid kit in concert this past weekend, she did a whole bunch of filming using her iPhone throughout our entire trip. and then she spent last night & this morning creating, editing, and finalizing an amazing and fun video of our trip! what a great way to preserve memories and laugh at how silly we are. i’m so excited and can’t wait to see what other videos she creates after this crazy, amazing, event-filled summer.

but, for now, check out this awesome 6 minute video of our weekend road trip!

peace and love. xx

making me all weepy.

think of this post as a little celebration on a completely random day.

one year ago today, i wrote an important post (click here to read it). it may not have been important to anyone but me. but, nevermind that. it was one of those serendipitous days that occurs every so often when you just know that everything is right. when your soul is not whispering to you, but shouting with joy and you feel as if you might burst. a day when everything makes sense and life seems exactly as it should.

it was a very powerful day for me. a day where i realized that i was ready. ready to really chase my dreams. ready to accept and understand and move forward. ready to admit that i would never go back – i could never go back – to simply living my old, “regular” life, but i knew that it was time to embrace the calling and the feeling that i was meant to write. no matter what.

and while it made sense to me, how any of that would be possible, i had no idea. i knew that i was going to do it. i had no idea how, but i believed. lina and i were already committed to moving to asheville so that lina could follow her dreams, but this time last year, i embraced that this move meant that i would also be following my dream as well.

it was as if i gave myself permission to just jump. to take a leap of faith and risk it. and that’s what last year’s post was all about.

this week, Facebook turned 10 and they created little videos for users based on their photos and updates – things they had posted on Facebook since they first began using it. i joined Facebook in 2007, just a few weeks after meeting lina. and i actually joined so that lina and i could keep in touch. so, our entire relationship was based on a friendship started in sweden and developed through Facebook messages and webcam chats.


when i clicked on my little one-minute video to see what Facebook had created for me, i was brought to tears by the photos and words that appeared before my eyes. it was a collection of beautiful moments from the very beginning of our relationship to now, in addition to some great highlights of my family and other amazing memories. i was so touched by my little video, and it brought to mind this incredible journey that i have been on throughout the past year. well, actually the past seven years…

so, i just had to share it with you. i wanted to share it as a way of honoring my life and reminding me of how overwhelmingly grateful i am. i wanted to share it with you to “prove” to you that you can make your dreams come true, that it is possible to live the life that you dream of and to find your passion. and i wanted to encourage you to never give up.

i hope that you, too, can look back over your life, whether it be 10 years or 10 days, and find things to celebrate as well. but, more than anything, i wish for you to feel hope and excitement and peace as you look forward.

click below to watch the video:

 peace & love. xx

the sochi effect

9e95b9c5460c816b632aab3d6c605c73 it’s time for the olympics. the winter ones, of course. and i’m semi-excited. ok. i’m not really excited at all. but, i know me. and as soon as news networks and twitter and Facebook friends begin posting stuff about the olympics, i will climb on board the olympic excitement train and get all caught up in curling (who knew that existed before the previous olympics?), figure skating, snowboarding, speed skating, and other events. and, as i do every olympics, the opening ceremonies will cause a tear to fall down my cheek. that is always a great moment of global unity, in my opinion.

but, this year, there is much, much more on my mind as well. and, maybe i will not climb on the olympic spirit train…

i suppose you could say that it’s hesitation. and concern. now, i’ve never been to russia so i know nothing about it first-hand. and i try not to judge a country i have not visited because they can be so completely different than expected – in good and bad ways. at least that’s what i’ve experienced. but, i must admit it, i am worried. scared, even. and, of course, i am angry.

right now all of the news seems to be about whether sochi is ready to host the olympics or not. can they handle the crowds? will there be violence or terrorism? on the news today there were reports that the accommodations for athletes are not up to par. the photos they showed were of fairly bare rooms, with toilets that you cannot put toilet paper in. instead, you use the trash can for the paper.

my first reaction to the “sub-par” conditions at hotels and such is this: suck it up. you are in another country and things will not be like they are at home. that’s what happens in different countries. and it is one of the beauties of travel – experiencing different cultures and ways of life, seeing how other people live, discovering and exploring. but, you must do this with an open mind. and with the expectation that things will not be the same. this is an adventure, and you will have stories galore to tell. not to mention, you will learn so much about yourself.

now, there is another issue that hits much more closely to home for me and you all have heard about it, i’m sure: LGBT rights. in russia, it is now illegal to be gay. and, from what i have read and seen, it is completely acceptable to bully, attack, and beat up any gay person or ally. it’s just horrible. ridiculous. and sickening.

and so, i am having a hard time reconciling the olympics (a global, unifying event) being in  this country where not all people are accepted. i could go on and on, but instead, i am going to leave you with a video. a very, very, very disturbing video. it is very graphic, so if you are sensitive, do not watch it. instead, read this article from gq:


but, if you think you can handle it, here is the video. it is so important for us to be aware. warning! graphic & disturbing!
[brightcove vid=3151343552001&exp3=58264559001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services&pubid=78144477&pk=AQ~~,AAAAAASoY90~,_gW1ZHvKG_0UvBsh7aZU7MXZe77OcsGq&lbu=http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/02/04/hrw_lgbtq_violence_human_rights_watch_releases_disturbing_video_of_violence.html&w=480&h=270]

peace, love, and equality. xx

“strip away the fear. underneath it’s all the same love.”

it’s awards season on tv, and last night was all about the grammys. of course, i tuned in after downton abbey was over, but i tuned in just in time to see what many are calling the highlight of the evening – it most definitely was for me.

as i sat and watched queen latifa introduce macklamore and ryan lewis, along with mary lambert, i was so excited that they were going to sing “same love”, a song written by macklemore, inspired by the love of his uncle and his partner. it’s a song about marriage equality, about focusing on similarities instead of differences. bottom line, it’s a powerful, inspiring song about love.

as i watched and sang along, already filled with the power of the lyrics, suddenly queen latifa appeared on the stage again, which was set to look like a chapel. and the camera cut to a long line of couples standing in the main aisle on the floor. i yelled to lina, “i think a bunch of couples are about to get married in the middle of this song! get in here!” sure enough, there were 33 couples, gay, straight, white, black, young, old. people in love. being married in the middle of a mackelmore and ryan lewis song. at the grammys. by queen latifa. it. was. incredible.

ADDITION The 56th Ann_Cham640


and then, to top it off, madonna came out on stage to serenade the newly married couples. people everywhere were wiping tears from their cheeks. everyone was singing and cheering. i had goosebumps up & down my arms & legs. it was amazing and completely emotional.

the fight for marriage equality continues, but this event. this moment, gives me continued courage and hope that all people in the united states, will one day be able to marry the one that they love.

watch the video below. watch the whole thing. you’ll be glued to the screen, i promise. and if you don’t get rap (or don’t understand the words), please scroll down and read the lyrics – they are so worth reading. thanks to macklemore for expressing so much of what i think and feel and believe. i could not say it any better. because, underneath it all, we real are all the same.

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ ”
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up…

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)

peace and love. and equality. xx


what are you doing new year’s eve?

well, that’s a wrap. the last day of 2013 is upon is, and i don’t know about you, but i am ready for some serious celebrating! this year i wanna get dressed up and be all fancy & girly. i wanna dance and go to a party and ring in the new year with people all around me.

i think i’m in such a celebratory mood because 2013 has been oh so generous to me… well, my love and i have worked for it, but we’ve also expected and envisioned it. so, as we dreamed and believed, we also acted and the universe opened door after door, showering us with amazing moments. and i want to celebrate all of that. i want to shout to the world, and spread extra joy today to everyone i meet… because i am so grateful and blessed. it’s time to try to give back a little of the amazingness that has been given to me in 2013. it’s truly time to celebrate.


all of the serious, soul-searching, reflection is done. last night i spent a few hours with candles lit, a glass of wine by my side, pens and journals open, and my soul-touching playlist playing. i reflected on the past year and envisioned and planned for the new one. i wrote on the last page of my 2013 journal and then put it away, with all of my other journals. it was a very special and meaningful ritual. but, now, these end of the year rites of passage have been completed, so the only thing left to do is dance & drink champagne!

as you read this, i am either currently on my way or already in atlanta, georgia to celebrate new year’s eve with some friends – lanie (a blogging buddy) and her girl, charlie. my love and i hit the road early, because we’ve got shopping, exploring, eating, drinking, and having fun to do before we meet up with the girls in the afternoon to begin our celebrations. and, boy do we have some celebrations planned! it’s gonna be so great! the perfect cap to one of the most amazing years (with plenty of both ups & downs) of my life.

here’s to 2014! here’s to turning 40 this year! here’s to living life & feeling alive! 

so, my friends, what are you doing for new year’s eve? 

i just had to. they’re so cute.

wishing you the happiest of new years! bring on 2014! 

peace and love. xx

enjoying the last few mysterious minutes of christmas day…

are you stuffed? or satisfied? do you feel exhausted? or energized? was it a peaceful day? or a wild & crazy one? whatever your christmas day has brought you, i hope that it has been beautiful and meaningful… i hope it has been exactly what you wanted and/or needed.

i have been blessed with a very quiet, calm day. a little different from all christmases throughout the rest of my life, but change is inevitable. and almost always for the better… i’ll admit, i have had my share of sad moments today, but even in those, i have felt a certain peace. a kind of steadiness and security – something that comes from two things: one, is my complete acceptance and appreciation of myself. i’m in a really good place right now… strong, grounded, inspired. my steadiness and security also come from my amazing wife and the unconditional, ever-supportive, always-nurturing love that she gives me. so, those rougher moments were made all the more smooth.

still, as i lay in bed right now, with only the glow of the computer and the star lit in our window, i feel a deep peace within. and a twinge of excitement and hesitation as i embark on the last week of this year, and approach the first week of a new one. i have no idea what is in store for me for 2014… but i am breathless with anticipation and it feels as if the slate is completely blank. like anything is possible.

but, before i get on with those reflective posts about the new year (more to come in the next week), i want to revel in the magic and mystery of christmas for a few more minutes…

so, just to be a little different, i thought i’d share with y’all my christmas photos in video-style. there were many magical, peaceful, and wonderfully shared moments during this advent and christmas season. one thing is for sure… this has been the most spiritual, meaningful, powerful, and disciplined advent season i have ever experienced. interestingly, i did not step foot in a church or take part in any other organized religion’s activity the entire time. what i did do was devote at least 30 minutes every morning to myself for reading, writing, reflecting, and/or meditating. that time every day was perhaps one of the greatest gifts i received this christmas.

anyway… here are some holiday moments that i captured with my camera – some of them spent alone, but most of them spent in the presence of loved ones. enjoy!


click on the photo to watch the video!

here’s to wishing you a very merry christmas filled with love & peace.




whoa! it’s december already!

click on the photo to watch my november photos fly by... hehe.

click on the photo to watch my november photos fly by… hehe.

i think this month snuck up on me. i was totally not prepared. like, not at all. first of all, november flew by like nothing i’ve ever experienced before. it felt as if it was only a week long. i mean, i have absolutely no idea where the time went or what i did. but, there’s no time to focus on that now…

it’s december! in fact, today it is already late at night on the 2nd of december. i need things to slow down. i don’t want to miss out on savoring the moments that come. i want to live in the present, and be aware and mindful of all that is going on. but, more than anything, i don’t want december to go by in a flurry of activities and miss the meaningfulness of this season – religious, natural, or otherwise . i want to embrace and feel all of december’s days and rituals and traditions.


but, that’s what’s good about photo journeys, i think. if nothing else, i slow just enough during the day to intentionally take a photo that means something, that represents something. when i make the photo journeys, i also think very long and hard about the season, the month, and all of the cyclical things that will be happening during the month – and i try to keep in mind all my buddies in the southern hemisphere as well. i try really hard to use the happenings of the year in the themes and sub themes of the photo journeys…

so, with that in mind, i decided that december’s theme would be “the gifts of the season”. it is my intentional way of finding space and time every single day to slow down just enough to be aware of one of the gifts that this season gives us. this december, i decided to focus on 5 different sub themes (or gifts):

1. the gift of preparation (dec. 1-7) – if you are religious, then this first week’s sub theme has everything to do with the season of advent in the christian calendar. a season much like lent (before easter), one of preparation for the celebration that is to follow. a time to look inward, to listen, to look, to be watchful and aware. a time to consider who we are, what we hope for, and how we live out that hope in our lives. if you are not religious, no problem. it is still a season of preparation: preparing for the holidays and the end of a year. it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, so preparing ourselves and slowing down and being mindful is something we all need, especially as the year comes to a close.

2. the gift of symbols (dec. 8-14)  – there are symbols everywhere you look throughout december. from stars to lights to trees to noises. we often don’t think of the meanings behind all of the symbols, but there are very deep, powerful meanings behind them all. this december, i hope that we all stop to consider those meanings when we take a photo of some of those symbols during the second week… if you don’t know the meaning of the symbol for the day, then i will be sure to write about it on my instagram photo, so you can find out there. or, you can just leave a comment here & ask me. :)

3. the gift of continuity (dec. 15-21) – during december, the third week of it to be exact, we change seasons in the northern hemisphere… from autumn to winter. we are faced with the longest day of the year, the darkest time of the year, as the sun is the farthest away from us. however, once the winter solstice is past, the days begin getting longer every day from december 22 to june 22 (the longest day of the year/summer solstice). this change of seasons, these yearly cycles, teach so so very much about life and death, hope and promise, even in the midst of darkness and suffering. it is a very symbolic time of the year, theologically and naturally. then again, i’m the girl who believes that nature teaches us about spirituality, and spirituality teaches us about nature. or, to put it another way, all of life is sacred and holy. mysterious. known, and yet unknown. so, the third sub theme is meant to help us focus on nature and all that she teaches us through the mystery of rhythms and cycles. you know, many of our holiday traditions actually come from early pagan rituals of celebration of this time of year in nature… so, it’s only fitting that we celebrate this miraculous and beautiful time of year, thanking mother nature for all she has done.

4. the gift of music (dec. 22-28) – ok. so i got cheesy here. but, we all love some holiday music. and seeing that this is the week of christmas eve and christmas day, i thought we’d take some time to slow down and really feel the music of the season – we’re gonna be singing it and hearing it anyway, might as well focus on it. of course, it was really hard to choose songs for this, because i could do a whole year of photo journeys on christmas songs. but, these, kinda just came to me as i thought about each day and they felt right. so, interpret them however you wish… but at least give them a listen on their day. let the music speak to your soul.

5. the gift of reflection (dec. 29-31) – if you know anything about me personally, you know that i looove reflecting before i move on. so, for the last three days of 2013, i thought it’d be fun to think a little about the year that has been and the year that is to come. and then, on the 31st… it’s all about celebrating!!

i hope that you join in with me during december. i hope that you don’t think of it as “one more thing to do”, but instead, something to help us stay focused and aware. time flies by so fast. life moves at a speedy pace and we miss so much. hopefully this photo journey will help us to take a breath and take a look at all that is going on, and then, take that moment to be grateful for one tiny little thing.

in any case, this photo journey is my holiday gift to you.


here’s to wishing you a december that is merry and bright! peace & love. xx