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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

“a closet is no place for a person to truly live.”

ok. this is just freaking awesome. it’s one of those amazing TED talks, motivational and inspiring talks & videos that make their way around the internet.

takes the time to watch this, laugh and listen. and then, perhaps together we can begin to think more about all the things that connect us, instead of the things that make us different and unique. (pssst. those things that make us different and unique are not actually bad, you know. they are amazing).

and it is most definitely time, to find a way to come out of our closets… whatever they may be. time to be authentically who we are. to face the pain & fear. because, i can tell you personally, that living a life that is authentic and true and real leads to freedom and inner peace…. something you will never find when you remain closed up in your dark, lonely closet. of course, it’s not easy. but, it is so worth it. and you know what else? we need you. the world needs you. just as you are. whatever your thing is: gay, straight, homeless, bankrupt, ex-com, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, immigrant… whatever.

so stop hiding. stop pretending. stop settling. instead be exactly who you are. live the life you dream of living. take that risk. be real. and pass this message on to someone else who needs to hear it.

be authentic. be direct. be unapologetic.

peace & love.

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Supernatural FX Showreel

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Iceland’s volcano timelapse

Mixtape Carles tattooed skateboard, letterpress artisan Neutra street art crucifix organic vinyl keffiyeh fingerstache Austin. Shabby chic photo booth distillery Odd Future. Chillwave deep v bespoke sartorial, tousled typewriter Carles twee. Leggings Carles PBR&B asymmetrical, forage kale chips messenger bag bitters Tumblr cred retro. Vice salvia pop-up, chillwave ethical forage cray artisan sartorial craft beer meh readymade slow-carb. Pug Etsy Tonx Vice Truffaut fanny pack, sustainable YOLO keytar trust fund. Austin Cosby sweater farm-to-table pour-over, flannel skateboard Godard drinking vinegar lomo.

[blockquote text=”Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts.” show_quote_icon=”yes” title_tag=”h6″]

Fixie ethical letterpress single-origin coffee, occupy Carles ethnic VHS 8-bit Austin. Odd Future crucifix Helvetica locavore, Carles 8-bit butcher hella hoodie. Cosby sweater scenester church-key fingerstache vegan pork belly kitsch, seitan cornhole yr Odd Future Helvetica mustache before they sold out. Before they sold out keytar polaroid pour-over, kogi umami PBR semiotics banjo. Paleo 90’s swag, food truck fashion axe cred flannel four loko fixie jean shorts art party pop-up biodiesel High Life typewriter. Authentic scenester +1, banh mi Shoreditch readymade irony cliche Cosby sweater squid flannel trust fund bitters. Bespoke crucifix Godard next level, keffiyeh narwhal kogi Odd Future tattooed shabby chic beard.

Paleo 90’s swag, food truck fashion axe cred flannel four loko fixie jean shorts art party pop-up biodiesel High Life typewriter. Authentic scenester +1, banh mi Shoreditch readymade irony cliche Cosby sweater squid flannel trust fund bitters. Bespoke crucifix Godard next level, keffiyeh narwhal kogi Odd Future tattooed shabby chic beard.

nesting day.

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i’ve got nothing special planned today – which is always a good thing in my world. it’s really gray outside. drizzly and chilly. and the hard rain, with possible thunderstorms, is on it’s way. so, i’m gonna hunker down on my sofa and read some new magazines. of course i’ll sip on coffee. and perhaps do some writing. but, we’ll see about that. in a little bit, i’ll light my autumn candle and fill the apartment with the sweet smell of spices and cinnamon. there will also be blankets involved, and definitely some comfort food, like a grilled cheese sandwich or swedish pancakes. oh, and some netflix time too. can’t forget that.

life is moving at warp speed. my days are filled with activities, meeting people, driving around town, exploring new places, spending time with my brother, and writing. and i get to share this life with the woman that i love, my inspiration and my everything. i couldn’t ask for anything more. truly. i have never, ever felt so content and at peace.

so, today, i am going to slow down and simply bask in that peace. it is international peace day, you know, and this is how i am going to celebrate.

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you see, i believe that to be peacemakers, we have to live as peacemakers ourselves. that does not mean that we have to board a plane and go work for the peace corps, though we can do that – and that would be awesome. what i believe about living as a peacemaker is more simply than trying to be like a saint or a guru that has achieved enlightenment. it means to live a life of peace in our every day lives, to  get to know ourselves from deep within, to work on ourselves, and to try to be true to who we are deep within our core – and that includes following our dreams and having the courage to acknowledge who we are, what we want, and how we have been created to use our own unique gifts. we were not made to follow a crowd, but to simply be who we are – and each of us is magnificent, beautiful, and amazing. each of us is already a powerful peacemaker in the making.

inner peace, enlightenment, contentment, happiness, whatever you call it, is already within us. nurturing our inner life will only lead us to live lives filled with deep peace. if we turn inward, if we explore our inner light, our inner soul, our inner truth, and then have the courage to follow it, we will exude peace in our daily, outer lives. others will see it and feel it. and that, my friends, i how we teach peace.

we teach peace by being peace.

i must admit to y’all, there is nothing like some good ole raw, honest, genuine bluegrass/folk rock for a rainy day to bring me to a place of deep peace. right now the darkness is closing in, the rain is  pouring down, and i have this video on repeat. these guys always touch my soul with their music & their lyrics. i cannot describe it, but i feel whole. grounded. well, simply peaceful. so, curl up somewhere for a few minutes and take a listen:

“we came to leave behind the world a better way” ~ the avett brothers

today, i am not going to march in any peace parade. or go to any protest. or take part in any community peace anything. i could, this is asheville, you know. hehe. instead, i’m staying home. i am going to let all the peace that is within me settle and soak deep into me today. i am going to nest. and i am going to nurture this peace that i feel, and listen to that still, small, quiet voice that whispers to me to simply be.

for me, today, peace begins at home.

“His ambition was not to become wealthy or to be well known, an image which society for some reason dictates each individual should prescribe to, instead his only ambition was to be at peace with himself, if he could achieve that than anything else he might need would follow. From now on he would question all things in life, but especially the rules and regulations of all authority institutions; he would take nothing on face value and only would accept what he personally knew to undeniably be true.” ― Andrew James PritchardCharnel House

sending you wishes for a calm, restful, peaceful weekend.

the lesson of a bird & her nest.

birdie

it’s not my birthday today. or any other special day, for that matter. but, perhaps that’s the point. it’s just a day. a regular day. however, is it really just a day? isn’t any & every day a gift? yeah… a day is a moment in time filled with wonder and awe. a chance to do amazing things, whether that means traveling to some exotic and beautiful place, or staying under the covers at home all day, or going to work to do the same thing you do every day. the point is… it’s a day. and you and i are alive. and breathing. and we have choices. we get to be the master of our days, our dreams, our life. we really do.

for the past week i have either been majorly sick myself, taking care of my wife being majorly sick (thanks to me), or quarantined in our home trying to rid ourselves of all the germs and contagiousness. today, we’d had enough. still a bit weak and tired, we decided that since the sun was shining, we’d make our way outside for a short little walk. we needed to feel the sun, to experience the warmth in the air. and it was a short trip outside, but it felt oh so good. not a grand, mind-blowing day in the eyes of many, but a grand, mind-blowing day nonetheless. any day can be extraordinary.

i didn’t remember that until yesterday, though. after spending the past few days inside, i made a conscious choice yesterday to make a change. i had gotten stuck in my head. but, i also let myself feel and think. i was tired of feeling sick and disconnected. yet, i wasn’t able to leave the apartment yet & begin life again. part of me didn’t really want to. still, i wanted to move on somehow. i needed to reconnect myself with myself. so, i grabbed my headphones, plugged in some music, and did some yoga. and i felt it. my soul. ahhhh… soon, i found myself having a hour long chat with my mom; and then, watching a beautiful bird as she patiently and diligently built her nest just to the right out my kitchen window. i locked eyes with this gentle creature a few times as she flew back up, carrying a stick in her beak. i pulled up a chair by the window and just sat there. i must have watched her for at least an hour. it was amazing. beautiful.

as i followed her every move in the process of nest-building, i was reminded of the beauty of each creature simply being who or what she/he is. and then, i got it. self-discovery is a wonderful (painstaking) process, but it is not one where we must figure out what is wrong with us and what we need to change (what i’ve been obsessing with lately). instead, it is an opportunity to listen to ourselves, to know ourselves as we are right now. it is simply spending time with ourselves and remembering that who we are, what we love, who we love, etc. and who we are right now is exactly who we are supposed to be. we are just fine as we are. we are enough. all we need to do is that which comes natural to us. all we need to be is ourselves. like the beautiful bird building her nest.

yep. my purpose in life is to simply be me. all the details will take care of themselves.

so, on this regular, ordinary day, i want to celebrate the amazingness of life, of being exactly who we were created to be, with you…. by sharing this video. watch it. listen. look. think. dream. be,

here’s to wishing you a great week ahead. embrace yourself and embrace this crazy, amazing life!

peace & love.

day 5. wild.

into the wild

image from pinterest.

so far, i haven’t been posting my daily photos for april’s belovelive photo a day journey. i plan on doing a weekly sum up about it. but, today i just couldn’t resist after i figured out how i was going to interpret today’s word:

wild.

i usually interpret the day’s word based on how i feel that day, or on something that happens. but, today i have been seeing, feeling, and experiencing “wild” in many different ways, so i couldn’t focus. it’s been crazy wild, in a tough way, today. like “i’m feeling all over the place and have no control” wild. today i also i yearn for the wildness of nature, for mountains and trails and road trips. and i feel wild & crazy inside, in a good kinda way. like “be exactly who you are and dance on the tables” wild. finally, i am feeling a sort of “i am so busy i can’t focus” wild. it’s wild how wild i am today.

then, by some force of divine inspiration, i remembered a song that i love. and it all made sense. i knew my focus and my interpretation for the day.

i’ve posted a video of the song in a previous post, and wrote then about how much i dig the singer/songwriter (lp) responsible for this inspirational, meaningful track. and when, i remembered her today, i knew that this was a great reminder of what the word “wild” really means to me.

it’s not a negative word, though sometimes it’s used that way. today it has been tempting for me to focus on wild in a negative way. like out of control. but, if i’m honest, for me, it’s really a word about carefree, reckless abandon. of wind whipping through your hair, howling at the moon, standing of the top of a mountain, dancing around your apartment, laughing till your belly hurts, sun on your face, twirling and jumping, freedom on the open road. oh how i long for that wild right now.

today, though, when i listened to the song again, i felt it. there was a twinge of wildness within me. it’s there. it always has been. and always will be. and i felt a sense of wild peace.

so, for now, as i head down the stairs and outside to the basement to gather my laundry, which is finally done, i’ll stop for a moment in the backyard and sit in a chair in the sun. i’ll tilt my head back, close my eyes, plug in my headphones, and let the music sweep me away while the sun warms my face and my bare arms. i’ll let my soul open up; and in an instant, i’ll feel the wild, carefree nature that is my soul. i’ll remember that the gate is wide open… and anything is possible.

come on, join me and listen to lp belt out her lyrics about living life. and let’s leave that gate behind.

(click here if you don’t have spotify and/or want to watch the video).

[spotify id=”spotify:track:15TiBxzXUKvlUCyrQ7RQHU” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Are we on the lonely side
Say oh now the past long away
Are we so lost in the dark of our hearts
That oh-oh-oh-oh there’s no light of day, no-oh-oh
No-oh-oh-oh

One, two, three, four

Somebody left the gate open
You know we got lost on the way
Come save us, a runaway train, gone insane
How do we, how do we not fade?
How do we, how do we, how do we not fade away?
How do we, how do we all fall
Into the wild
How are we livin’, livin’, livin’
Into the wild
How are we livin’, livin’, livin’
Whoa-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh-oh, hey-hey-hey, hey-hey-hey-hey

Oh please believe me I’m more scared than not
That oh-oh-oh-oh this isn’t the way
And please be there, I can barely hang on
But whoa-oh-oh I’ll wait ‘til I break, yeah-hey-hey-hey
Yeah-hey-hey-hey

Somebody left the gate open
You know we got lost on the way
Come save us, a runaway train, gone insane
How do we, how do we not fade?
How do we, how do we, how do we not fade away?
How do we, how do we all fall
Into the wild
How are we livin’, livin’, livin’
Into the wild
How are we livin’, livin’, livin’
Whoa-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh-oh, hey-hey-hey, hey-hey-hey-hey

it’s wide open, the world and all her possibilities.

where do you wanna go?

peace & dreams, my loves.

be your own superhero.

i came across some new music . again. and you know i love that. right now i can’t remember how i found this chick, but i think she’s rad. and on top of her talented song-writing (which she has done extensively) and awesome musical ability, she’s funky and unique. she is her own person. goes her own way. does her own thing. plays a ukelele.  and is true to herself. and you know i reaaaally love that.

on top of all that, she’s freaking smart. or has smart values/beliefs.

here is one of her songs that i’m diggin’ right now. it’s all about being free. living life.

it may be a regular tuesday for you. it may be a day when something incredible happens. or it may be a day when your world feels like it’s falling apart. what i do know, from deep within my soul, is that no matter what, you are loved. you are worthy. and you are  a beautiful, unique person. discover yourself. claim the life that you want. dream big. and always hope. and remember that you are your own superhero. so live your life to the fullest, exactly as you want to live it! be proud of who you are!

“I think everybody needs to find out who they are and who their, like, inner superhero is, or who you like to be. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what the hell they wanted to do and being who they wanted to be.” ~LP

keep on flying high. peace.

long time sun: the yoga in me.

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i planned on writing this morning, but instead i followed my love to an appointment she had. nothing like plans changing, huh?

except it was a good thing. a really good thing.

you see, i love yoga. you may know that. it’s been something I added to my life about a year ago. i’d wanted to practice yoga for many years, but i guess the time was never right.

anyway, i knew it would be something great for me. right up my alley. and it is. i am meant for yoga. if you don’t know, there are many, many, many types of yoga… and i know nothing about them really. only the one i practice: kundalini.

kundalini yoga is quite relaxing and physical at the same time. there is a really good balance between silent, deep breathing (meditation, one could say) and physical movement (which kicks my ass). and the movement is not always slow. it’s a really good type of yoga for those of us who cannot shut off our brains and need to do more than just sit there in silence.

so, i’ve found a home in my yoga practice. and i’m pretty sure it’s a long term commitment. i can’t imagine not doing it, and i crave even more time.

but, what does all that have to do with today’s changed plans?

well, when i sat down in the waiting room to wait for lina, i saw that a little candle was lit. cozy, i thought. and then i got got up & saw some tea bags, hot water, and mugs. and i thought “perfect.” then, i saw it was yogi tea, which made me think of yoga. so, i decided that i would spend my time in the waiting room sipping tea, listening to meditative music, and just breathing. suddenly, i realized that this trip with my love to her appointment was a blessing in disguise.

i plugged my headphones in my ears and searched for a song, when I remembered one particular song that my yoga instructor uses every week. at the end of our yoga pass, we have a fairly long resting time on our yoga mats. our instructor guides us in a meditation to relax our body & mind, and to let the the energy and feelings from our yoga soak into our body & mind. this is a very relaxing and wonderful time… and i have been known to fall asleep during these 15 minutes. oops. hehe.

as i sat alone in the waiting room, i searched for & found this particular song on one of my playlists. i closed my eyes, turned up the volume in my ears, and began breathing. in and out. deep & slow. my mind was focused only on the lyrics of the song. they are so beautiful, so peaceful. i felt such a sense of calm, and of being completely grounded. completely connected.

you know, not all of us need to like yoga. not all of us need to practice saying long prayers, or chanting, or whatever else. but, it is important to slow down. it is beneficial to take a few deep breaths. it is inspiring to connect with God, or with the Tao, or your self, or with fellow humans. for me, it doesn’t matter if you do it by listening to God, or emptying your mind, or making some yoga poses, or taking a long walk, or reading a book. i find God in the midst of everything and everyone.  and i highly recommend trying to live a balanced life – something i am not always good at, but that i keep struggling & trying to do. and of course, i highly recommend being completely silent too. time to face yourself, to hear your inner voice, and your heartbeat. time to connect to the divine image within you.

i believe we have all been created with equal worth. each of us possessing certain gifts, passions, talents. each of us lovable, beautiful, unique people with something to offer to this world. for me, yoga, prayer, and meditation are the things in my life that connect me to my soul – to that piece of God, of light, of love,of mystery, of divinity that is within. they are the means by which i am reminded of who i am – where i have been, where i am, and where i am going. they are the sacraments that allow me to slow down & remember that i have a purpose, a calling, to be authentically me. to live my life filled with carefree passion and love. this is where my dreams are born and the courage to follow them is inspired. this is where i find joy and more reasons than i can count to celebrate life.

i invite you, my friends, to take a few moments and listen to my little yoga song. it’s my benediction to you. let the words soak in. accept it as a blessing, and allow yourselves a few moments to just be you.

now, my dear readers, i bid you goodnight. and i send you sunshine, love, & peace. sat nam.

you know what saturday’s are for? they’re for dancing!

ok. i just had to. i known that there are things that go viral on the internet. some are real, some are fake, some are cute, some are weird. and some (ok. many) of them i find annoying. but, no matter what the following video is, it is a message to all of us to live life. to make things happen. to get out there & enjoy the moments that otherwise are slipping by. so, it was worth my time watching.

now, my heart was stolen by this video for many reasons:

  1. it highlights a super cute kid
  2. it has a positive, fun message
  3. it’s creative
  4. it highlights my absolute favorite poem EVER
  5. it has good music in the background
  6. and, at the end, i felt like dancing

so, i’m gonna turn up the music today & dance around my apartment. and then, i’m gonna go celebrate the birthday of friend with bowling, dinner out, & a little bit of party party. and, now, i leave you with this video as your inspiration for saturday – for all of life! make it happen!

at the beginning of the year i decided that my word of the year would be carefree & i wrote about what that means to me here. while i’m remembering to let my  spirit be wild & free every day, and to find the adventures hidden in every day, this video reminded me, once again, to keep at it! there is so much for which to be thankful. so many beautiful moments. so many adventures. and so many possibilities. and, i must say, i have found a new, energized spirit within me in 2013. something has been set free. something is growing. and it feels amazing! yep. i’m here to celebrate. every day.

now, let’s dance! peace.

when the leaves fall & the light fades.

what do you do when it seems like those dreary fall days begin to settle in? when things feel monotonous. and gray. like every day is repeat of yesterday. and the days get darker as the sun fades from our days. when the carefree spirit of summer is completely gone and the routine of work, school, and life set in. what do you do?

while i love the fall, and it’s canvas of colors on the trees and the ground, and the opportunity to snuggle inside with rain pattering on my window and candles glowing softly, i admit that day after day of that can be rather… well, boring. so, i have decided that this fall i’m gonna tap into my creative side. here’s how i’m gonna spend my time:

  • listen to new music (perhaps a fall playlist will be coming soon!)
  • write & post more of my story (see “from death to peace” at the top of the page.)
  • do little arts & crafts projects (and by little, i mean little & simple. i’m not that crafty. hehe.)
  • visit cafes (which i always do, i know. but i love it.)
  • read books (i have a h.u.g.e. stack of books by my bed.)
  • make hot chocolate. enough said.
  • decorate the apartment for the seasons (halloween & thanksgiving)
  • snuggle with lina & zola (wife & cat)
  • create our thanksgiving dinner menu & invitations
  • take long walks
  • embrace the season of scarves & boots
  • research my blog (is there a theme running through my posts? what is most popular? can i write a book based on my blog?)
  • have photo shoots/photo walks
  • include some yoga in every day
  • keep dreaming. keep listening. keep feeling. keep being.

as i am writing this, i’m listening to a new album. the carpenter by the avett brothers, who just happen to be from north carolina. yeah. love love love it. like a million times over. not just for the music & the instruments. but for the lyrics as well. and of course, for the feeling of home that i get from listening to & seeing them perform. so, for your viewing pleasure, here is the first track on the album:

and if you have spotify, here is the entire album for you to enjoy. i’ve got it on repeat today. perfect for fall:

[spotify id=”spotify:album:3zvxtXSdWY2JHkKmoIG3OG” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

even though the season is sometimes dreary, and life sometimes feels the same day after day… even though fall is the ending of the year, the last little bit of light & color before the hibernation of winter sets in… it can still be a time of calm, beauty, and hope. autumn is part of the journey, part of the beautiful cycle of the seasons. and just as we have the same cycles in our lives, fall is here to help us to just be. it  reminds us to keep plugging through life, to not give up. a time that teaches us, that even though things may be dying around us, there is still beauty. and we still have each other.

Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black cloak drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I wont be scared to die 
~ the avett brothers

may cozy warmth & peace surround you.

you thought i’d forgotten? no way.

some time may have passed since my last photo a day post, but i’m still going strong. oh yeah. it’s just that september started & i was in ireland… and then, i did all those ireland posts. and time has just gotten away from me. majorly. but, if you’ve followed me on instagram, the you’ve seen that i’m on top of things. and now, even though it’s almost the middle of september, i’m back on track.

 if you haven’t been a part of photo a day, and are curious about it, just grab your phone or a camera, follow the prompts, and join in. piece of cake.

so, here we go. the first pics from my birthday month!

1. you, now. (that’s me, in ireland. all dressed for a wedding!)

2. father: the father of methodism once preached in this methodist church turned bar. cool.

3. far away. i loooove to hop on a plane & fly far, far away. (pic from dublin airport)

4. in my mailbox: just bills. sad face. but i love that my mail is delivered through my door.

5. bright: the sun greeting me after arriving home from ireland.

6. happy thursday! this day is not just like every other day… it’s the present moment. so live it up! enjoy!

7. natural: it’s perfectly natural to dance in your living room on a friday night.

8. at night: a glass of wine. always good.

9. something i do most weekends: walk to work

10: black & white

11: hero: my love, my everything.

12. together: apple pie & coffee. perfect together.

and now, here comes a little video my love made. just so you can see what i’ve been up to. just for kicks & fun. enjoy!

sending you tons of creativity, laughter, & peace.

shake it out.

it’s monday morning and i woke feeling something. something good. almost, dare i say, close to excited. i felt like dancing! just turning on some music, spinning, twirling, & jumping about. think ally mcbeal-style. i have no idea where the feeling came from or why i woke up this way, but i did. so, i’m gonna go with it!

and i have the perfect song for today! it’s about shaking off the bad, moving on, leaving the past behind, starting over, shaking it all off. AND it includes one of my favorite lines (that i used in my post yesterday)… “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

turn it up & dance with me!

[spotify id=”spotify:track:5K5EW1r6bW6oLZwrBD75YN” width=”300″ height=”380″ /]

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh

But I like to keep some things to myself

I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around

And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but it’s left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn
Oh woah, oh woah…

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my rope
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Looking for heaven, found the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

dance all day long! dance, even if you don’t feel it. do it anyway. channel your inner ally. happy monday!

gotta go & dance now… peace.