1. set a goal and make it happen.
for the past 2 years, i have chosen a word to focus on for the entire year (see the upper right corner of this page). that word or phrase has served as my inspiration. i tend to let the word come to me, but of course i am impatient and i want to know what it is on january 1st. however, sometimes the word has to seep into my consciousness. in 2013, the word (free-spirited) did not appear until sometime during the first week of the year. nevertheless, it did appear and i based everything i did throughout the year on seeking to be faithful to my word – my vision for 2013. this year has been all about nurturing that free-spirited nature within me through risk, adventure, and living life to the fullest. and wow, what a ride it has been!
2. music feeds the soul.
oh, how i love music. all kinds of music. and i make playlists like crazy – based on certain moods or times of the year, all because they speak to my soul. but, there is one song, one song in particular, which touched me in ways that i haven’t felt in a few years.
in february, on the 7th to be exact, i was sitting at my desk in our downtown apartment in norrköping, sweden… writing. and listening to music. it was the avett brothers newest album (at that time) – they are my pick for artist of the year in my world. anyway, i heard some of the lyrics and suddenly it was one of those moments… a moment when the universe connects things and i receive a message and my soul feels like it just might burst.
I went on the search for something real.
Traded what I know for how I feel.
But the ceiling and the walls collapsed
Upon the darkness I was trapped
And as the last of breath was drawn from me
The light broke in and brought me to my feet.
There’s no fortune at the end of the road that has no end.
There’s no returning to the spoils
Once you’ve spoiled the thought of them.
There’s no falling back asleep
Once you’ve wakened from the dream.
Now I’m rested and I’m ready
I’m rested and I’m ready
Yeah I’m rested and I’m ready
as listened to this song, named february seven, on february 7th, and as the light broke in, i knew. i knew that writing was what i needed to focus on. that it was time, i was completely ready to focus on this passion of mine. that once i have wakened from this dream, once it had become part of me, it was time to chase it… and chase it i did.
3. explore. set sail. discover. drive. walk. fly. just go!
it’s no secret that traveling is my favorite thing to do – and when i travel, i am with my love, i write, and i take photos = so traveling is pretty much perfection for me. i considered not including it on this top 10 list because it is so obvious. but, then, i decided that it is such a part of me, that i need to remind myself over & over again to nurture this part of me. this is where my inspiration comes from. this is how i get my education. this is how i learn and grow and laugh and feel alive. and whether i am traveling on my own town, an hour away, or an ocean away, this no matter what year it is, this will always be a top ten in my world.
4. drink champagne & celebrate everything.
live life! celebrate! find something every single day to celebrate (you don’t have to drink champagne every day). some days it’s little things and some days it’s really big things. this past year i drank champagne on a regular friday when i met a friend at a bookstore (that sells bubbly all day!). just because. lina & i drank champagne on our flight from sweden to the states to celebrate our huge move. i drank champagne and danced on random weekend nights when we had music jams at our friend’s home in sweden. i drank champagne for my 39th birthday brunch.
of course, the point is not to drink champagne (though it’s yummy)… the point is to nurture at attitude of celebration, of gratefulness, and of joy. because, even though there is much that is difficult and painful, there is something beautiful and worth celebrating every single day. i promise. how about just celebrating that you are alive?! woo hoo!
5. live with less.
in june, before leaving our apartment in sweden. my love and i had a moving sale. we turned our entire apartment into a flea market for a weekend and invited friends and family to come. what happened was that so many people came and bought so much of our stuff (for super duper cheap), that now our stuff is spread out over sweden, which feels so amazing to us. the rest of the stuff we gave to charity.
this entire process reminded me first, what is really important to me. and second, how much i do not need in order to be happy. material things do not matter – oh, they are fun. but, simplicity is much more fulfilling. and not having so much extra stuff, but only stuff that i will use is how i want to live for the rest of my life.
i’ve gotten rid of stuff before a big move 3 times now. all that i own is in our apartment – and we are renting that. it feels much more freeing and light to not hoard stuff, and to go through my things regularly, giving things away as i see that i am not using something. i think that trying to live simply is psychologically and spiritually good for the soul.
6. connect with nature.
this is another absolute must in my life: i need the trees. i need the sky. i need the wide open sea. i need, and appreciate, all types of landscapes. and, i’m lucky enough that i have had the joy of visiting and seeing so many different types of land and sea on earth. but, more than just soaking in the beauty of nature, when i wander in nature or just sit and stare, i can breathe. i am grounded (no pun intended. hehe.). i feel organically connected to all living things in the cosmos. i remember how small and great we are at the same time. i am inspired. and i need to feel all of these things to help me keep life in perspective.
7. fika is a spiritual experience.
ok. i’ll admit it. i have loved coffee for as long as i can remember – even before i drank it, when i watched my grandparent’s sip a cup after meals. but, it became even more important to me this year. in sweden, i loved having fika and being a part of the fika culture so much that i brought it with me to asheville – and began to share it and spread it.
and while it’s still about good coffee, it’s become so much more than that now. it’s about spirituality. about being alone, or in the company with others, and truly connecting on a deep level. it’s about slowing down and focusing on relationships – my own with the divine, or seeing the divine between me and another. fika was how i lived out my faith in 2013. and i am certain that it will continue to be that in the new year.
8. spur of the moment decisions are best.
and boy, did i have some doozies this year. one of the most influential ones was my decision to rent out a little office space in a historical building in downtown asheville. my reasoning? it would be a place where i could focus on writing, plus it would be a great opportunity to meet new people, seeing as i was downtown in the middle of everything. it was a huge risk because, though it was cheap, i still had not secured a job and was, in a sense, saying that my job was going to be a writer = make no money.
i rented that little space for only a month before i told the landlord that i wasn’t going to keep it. but, it wasn’t really a sad decision to let it go. and i had not failed at anything. in fact, it was quite the opposite. that little space, just having it for a month and a half, was the turning point for me accepting and understanding that i am a writer. and i went after my dreams full speed ahead after that. and you know what happened? i became a freelance writer for a local newspaper! amazing!
i took a risk. i followed my soul. and the universe co-conspired with me. but it did it all from my gut, my intuition. there were no pros and cons lists. no long sleepless nights. i just did it, and trusted that it would be exactly as it should… come what may.
9. surround yourself with positive people.
i cannot stress this enough. everyone has energy that they put out into the world. positive and negative. life is too short and there is too much to deal with and celebrate at the same time, so i choose to surround myself with those people who are positive, those who inspire me, make me think, challenge, me, and touch my soul. i want people around me who will celebrate with me when i’m excited and inspire me when i am feeling down.
i honor and respect the humanity in people that are a bit more negative, but i will not let their negativity affect my life, my goals, and the fact that we need as much love, hope, and inspiration in this world as possible. the end.
10. seeds are growing underneath the snow.
be patient. trust the universe. you and i may not see what is happening, what is being prepared for us. we may not believe it at times. we may lose hope when times get tough or when we don’t get the answers we want, or any answers at all… but trust me. i have experienced time and time again, that all is working for good. we may not understand the process. we may even hate the process, but we are growing and learning and being transformed. and one day, when we look back, we will understand.
as i look back over 2013, it all makes sense to me now… the fear and pain of my love being sick, the stress over moving, the impulse to leave my dream behind just to ensure financial security, the need to work and do something that i did not feel called to do anymore, the changes and transitions and goodbyes. the hidden meanings. the hidden messages. the misunderstood moments and times of waiting.
of course, i still don’t understand it all, because life continues into 2014 and my journey continues. but, as time passes, i understand more and more. but, more importantly, i trust more and more. and i slow down. i try to read the signs and be aware of the present moment, leaving the past behind as a beautiful memory and something from which to learn, and leaving the future in it’s mysterious, unknown place.
for now, i give thanks for today. i trust that i am exactly where i am supposed to be. and i relax and enjoy whatever comes my way, knowing that today i am more true to my authentic self than i was in the beginning of 2013. i have changed. i have grown. and i have learned and experienced so much. for all of you out there, for my family and friends, for the mere fact that i live and breathe, i am grateful.
here’s to an amazing 2013! i believe that i did fulfill my vision to begin to authentically live up to the spirit that is within me. i began to claim my life, my story, and i began to tell it. but, oh, this is only the beginning… now, what amazing lessons and adventures lay head for us in the coming year?!