söndag morgon musik

snowed in and listening to music. a cozy cat curled up next to me. thinking of my love. nice.

exploring new artists on spotify and itunes (thanks to recommendations from others). making playlists. love how it's making me feel.

i think it's time for coffee soon.
and i really need to/want to focus on some important paperwork at some point today.

i'm letting the music guide me today.

snowstorm weekend

all the preparations have been made...as best i can do. i am ready to take on the january 2010 snowstorm in nc!!
  1. grocery store shopping done...lots of snacks and junk food!
  2. school dismissed early today...so i am safe at home.
  3. taken a shower, doing laundry, and gathering candles...in case i lose power (typical here in the states)
  4. iPhone is charged
  5. waiting on directions from my dad on how to use the generator - to keep some power on all the time.
  6. got movies, blankets, books, and wine
  7. missing my love so much (but hopefully will be able to talk some on msn)
  8. and the snow has started!
wish me luck!
the first snowflakes are falling...
we're ready...

song up in her head

this morning as i was driving to work, i heard a song and a voice that i had never heard before. and i loved it. i came home, listened on spotify, downloaded in iTunes, and i think i've found my new favorite artist. sarah jarosz. bluegrass...mmm. perfect. it's been a while since i've listened to bluegrass, but it always makes me feel like i'm sittin' in the sun, relaxing, drinking a beer, and livin' life. it makes my soul dance and my heart smile.

two roads

i have a few extra hours before i head off to work this morning, so i am using my time as wisely as i can. what do i need the most right now? peace. comfort. inspiration. patience. faith. not because things are bad, but just because those are good things to have in life. although, perhaps life is a little challenging right now and i just need to be for a few moments.

so, this morning i began reading the shack (a book recommended to me by one of my supervisors at work). i read the forward and discovered that this is a book about one man's journey. perhaps quite different from mine, and yet quite the same as each of us. and then i turned to the first page... the quote which sits just above the words of the first paragraph is inspired by one of my favorite poems. i used the poem in the first and last sermons i preached at canton central umc. it inspires me always and reminds me who i am and how i choose to live life. when i saw this poem in the middle of page one, i knew that i was about to encounter a book that would affect me deeply.

i have not read anything else yet in chapter one. i just started writing after seeing the lines from my favorite poem... guess i'll begin reading this afternoon. but for now, i'll just share this:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

first day

the beginning of a new semester is really the first day of school all over again. new classes. new students (and some of the same ones too). new goals. new ideas. i love the change of routine and the challenge of the first day.

actually, my day went quite well! it started early this morning with a long, fun talk with my love...getting me in a great mood for work. the class that was destined to be the hardest, was enjoyable. exhausting too...my kids need so much help. and the rest of the day was surprising as well, with some students working harder than i have seen them work before. seems like the kids needed the change of a new semester also. but, i guess, it's always good to have a fresh start, a clean slate. i think that's when we feel hope and excitement.

here's my desk with the necessities of a school day... computer, lesson plans, calendar, coffee!!, my favorite pens, journal, my iPhone (for international updates. hehe. and other work calls too...), and a coke.

this semester, the theme for my class is growth, symbolized by a tree (you can see it on my computer screeen). i am challenging and expecting my students to grow as individuals, as students, and as global citizens. i want them to reflect on who they are and how they interact with others, discover how they learn and how to overcome the challenges in their lives, and open their minds to learning not just facts, but what it means to be a human living in this world. i want them to know that someone does care for them, they are not alone, and that the most amazing gift is the opportunity to care for someone else.

while i want to see them grow, i am certain that i will grow in many ways as well. what will we all learn?

welcome, spring semester!

spring semester


the spring semester begins tomorrow at the high school where i teach!! yay! it seems as if january has dragged on and on (i am aware that we have one more week to go still). i am ready to check this month off my list and get moving on to february. checking off months is what i'm living for these days. i am seriouisly trying to get to june. and the beginning of the spring semester finally means that it's downhill now until school is out.

now, i realize that this seems like a sad, pathetic existence...and definitely not the way to live in the present moment. well, i am trying hard to live in the moment daily because i can only take things one day at a time. but, i am completely focused on june. and i excuse my somewhat sad existence and my focus on the future because it is not easy to be away from the one you love. it breaks my heart daily to not share life with my love, especially after we have lived together for the past year and a half. it feels empty...everything i do. the thing is, it's not like we can see each other on the weekends, or even every 3 weeks or so. it's different countries, with an ocean and a crapload of money for an airplane ticket in between. it is not possible for us to see each other until june unless we win the lottery.

yes. i am complaining and feeling sorry for myself. but, it hurts. however, i would not trade anything about the relationship that my love and i have. it is worth every single moment apart and together, every single tear and laugh. it is an amazing, strong love...perhaps due to the extreme emotions we feel and circumstances in which we live. again, i would not wish for anything else!

back to the spring semester... have i mentioned that it begins tomorrow?! so, tonight i'm getting ready for my students. planning, organizing, creating, deciding how i can be a better and more inspiring teacher. it's time for me to get back to work now... a new semester begins! i'm coming, june!

exam day

today is the first day of exams. woo hoo!! not the typical response, huh? well, it is when you are the teacher giving the exams! hehe. for the next two days i am giving exams all day, and i welcome the change in schedule (i am one of those persons who gets bored with routine pretty fast). but even better than the change in schedule, it means that we are finally, finally at the end of the first semester! the spring semester starts on monday...and i can't wait!!


no matter what, i love asheville

perhaps you will judge me for this story, but oh well. i need/want to process my thoughts.

i went to a birthday party in asheville tonight. one of my friends/co-workers invited me to join her party at a restaurant downtown. so, i did. i parked my car in a parking lot across the street from the restaurant. when i walked over to the machine where i pay for my parking, i was met by a 40-50 year old man who stuck out his hand to shake mine, introduced himself, and asked me for $5. it was clear that this was a homeless man. he told me he was hungry and asked again for the money. i told him that i had no cash with me (note to self: always carry a little bit of cash), but that i could go to an atm to get some so he could have some food. in a perfect world, i could go and buy him food and then give it to him, but i was due at the birthday party so i didn't have time.

let me tell you a little something about myself. i give money to homeless people. i say this not to say that i am some great humanitarian, but to say that this is not something weird for me to do. and i am not ashamed. over the years i have met some amazing homeless people who have touched me deeply, and some who are crazy, and some who made no real impression on me. so, in my belief/practice of the equality of all people and because i try to not judge people based on their circumstances or outward appearance, i walked with this man downtown for about 10 minutes. we talked about haiti, poverty, and laughter. at a stoplight/crosswalk, he asked if he could hug me. i wasn't scared or concerned...rather i was humbled by this opportunity to share a human moment with him. however, i was aware that a police car was stopped at the same light and there were people all around, which helped me feel more at ease. i'm not stupid, and i am cautious. we crossed the street, he stayed at the corner, and i went to get money. when i gave it to him, he gave me a hug, and then he took off.

i waited for the light to turn, crossed the street, and felt a bit disappointed that he just took the money and "ran". a few steps later, the police car pulled over beside where i was walking. the policeman rolled down his window and called me over. he asked me if the man was bothering me. i told him no; that he had asked for money and i gave it to him, and we had walked together, but he had not bothered me. the policeman asked again if i was ok and i replied that i was. i told him that i appreciated him "looking out for me" (and i do!). then, i walked on. when i got a few steps away, he got out of his car and approached the homeless man. i kept walking and headed to the party.

i had a nice time at the party... leisurely enjoying my food, beer, and the company around me. about 15 minutes before i left, i looked outside and saw the homeless man hanging out again near the parking lot across the street. i looked back at my surroundings and i thought about the gap that exists between us. a few brief moments of shared humanity and then back to our individual lives. is that right? is that just the way that it is and must i accept that? will there ever be justice and equality? will there always be people who have to beg for money and go to sleep at night hungry?

it was a strange night. it was good. and disappointing. and heartbreaking. and amazing. no matter what, though, i will always love asheville.

meet my two best friends

for the first half of 2010,
i have two friends who are keeping me sane and connected.

i love 'em!

my iPhone, Sam

my close buddy...initials: MSN

new design

thanks to my love's help (big time!), i now have a new design here. so basically, this is how i have spent my saturday morning (and she has spent her afternoon - love you, baby ). now, on to other things... hmm...

friday night

i am spending my friday night relaxing after a really long week. has it been a difficult week everywhere around the world?

the school week lasted forever. some of my co-workers faced some really difficult things this week. big time stress! my kids were quite good, thank goodness. but, the other events of the week were crazy. it's amazing how the attitudes/frames of mind of other people affected my attitude. i had to work really hard to be aware of my feelings of stress and realize that it was not my stress, but that i was taking on the stress/frustrations of others. as soon as i could realize that, then i could return to a more calm and peaceful way. it is not healthy to take on the pain others are feeling. it's good to sympathize, but not to let it eat you up as well. easier said than done. by today, i really needed it to be friday. watching others freak out about stress was exhausting me emotionally.

and my kids, while they were good... they are so focused on violence all the time...talking about beating each other up, getting revenge, playing around like they are shooting each other, listening to negative lyrics on their iPods. why so much violence? how can i teach them peace, compassion, and non-violence? sometimes it feels like i am banging my head up against a wall...

the earthquake in haiti. such suffering. injustice. death. pain.

it just seems like everyone has had a tough week.

so, i'm really glad it's friday. now, 3 days (for those of us who are americans - martin luther king, jr. holiday on monday) of rest and relaxation. think i'm gonna sleep alot, perhaps take a walk, write some more, and take some pictures. maybe even a little shopping... oh! and i'm gonna work on my residence permit application for sweden! i plan to enjoy this weekend and just be.

right now...a glass of wine, a good movie, and bed soon. g'night!

global identity

two things have happened today: 1. i was told that the swedish tax authorities wold not be able to change my name and, 2. the world is beginning to see the magnitude of the devastation from the earthquake that hit the country of haiti. it seems that these 2 events are so disconnected. how can there even be any similarities or connections? one is a personal disappointment and the other is a nationwide tragedy. however, as i've thought about the 2 throughout the day, i feel a common thread exists.

being told that i cannot change my name led me to joke with some co-workers that i am having an identity crisis. i can't seem to figure out what my last name is gonna be. mcguire? reynolds? eriksson? mcguire, again? actually, my initial disappointment lasted only a short time. it seems to be a complicated issue and to keep my name as it is may reunite me with my love sooner. yes! i choose to be with her sooner, rather than having a certain name.

you see, my identity is not tied up in my name. it doesn't matter what my name is, what a piece of paper says. they are only letters. symbols.  what really matters is who i am. inside. and how that personality manifests itself outwardly in my life. it doesn't matter what you call me, or what i call you. it matters how we treat each other.

that brings me to the second thing that happened today: the news of the pain, fear, and sadness that haiti is experienceing now due to the 7.0 earthquake. in an already poverty-stricken country, haiti now is enduring destruction: loss of water, power, medical supplies, homes, and human lives. there was already so much need for aid and help in the tiny country, now it is unimaginable for the already poorest country in the western hemisphere. and i am left thinking, what can i do? i always feel a bit of panic when things like this happen...things like hurricane katrina, the tsunami in indonesia. i find myself wishing i could board a plane and get there as soon as possible. what would i do? i don't know. but i have the desire to be there, to hold hands, to provide comfort, and to observe, photograph, and write about what i see and experience.

but, i am not going to haiti. i am in the mountains of north carolina. tomorrow i am going to the high school i go to every day where i teach teenagers who face their own personal challenges and tragedies. however, i still feel a sense of connection to haiti, and afghanistan, and africa, and eastern europe and... you see, who i am - who we all are - is part of this global community. it would be nice if we could all converge on the island of haiti and help out. but, there is plenty we can do wherever we are. i truly believe that if we all would simply teach compassion, acceptance, and love in our everyday lives to the people that we encounter everyday...then we will be making peace and healing the suffering in the world one little moment at a time.

so, my name is irrelevant. i am so much more than my name. we are so much more than individuals. your pain is my pain. and mine is yours. haiti's pain is the pain of the world. but all the suffering seems so overwhelming. what can we do? well, i believe we can live our lives for each other. we can focus not on our names, our cultural differences, and our various nationalities, but on the common humanity we all share. and we can begin by loving each other in our everyday lives.

tomorrow i am not going to haiti. but, i am going to honor haiti, i am going to help... by setting aside 10 minutes to listen to a 17 year old teenage boy tell me about his alcoholic family. i am going to remind a 17 year old teenage girl that she should always believe in herself and to reach for the stars. i am going to give a pep talk to a 16 year old boy who is tempted to drop out of school and join a gang. i am going to write goals for an almost 18 year old young man who feels like giving up because his mother is addicted to drugs. i am going to listen to my co-workers who need a moment to vent their frustrations. i am going to spend some very important time with my love. i am not going to haiti, or iran, or egypt, or latvia; but i am going to teach peace and love where i am. and perhaps that will begin a little movement that one day will burst into a world filled with hope, joy, and justice for all. together it is possible.

pics from here

it's here...♥

the new season of american idol begins tonight! love the crazy drama. love the over-the-top comments. love the undiscovered talent...love it! music music music! what will this season bring? who will be the unique individual with their own style that becomes my favorite? can't wait. having my love here to watch with me would make it perfect.

one of my previous favorites:

pj day

it's good to have a pj day every now and then. today is mine. and here are the events of the day:
  • hanging out with my parents
  • drinking lots of cups of coffee
  • talking some with my love
  • planning some for the family summer beach vacation
  • catching up with some friends on facebook
  • doing laundry
  • still unpacking and cleaning my room

later on... watch a movie? read some? webcam with my love?

i had no idea

the post following this one just came bursting out of me tonight. it was unexpected and unbelievable. i have been waiting for a year to process the past 2-3 years of my life. and i couldn't. i haven't been able to write. anything, really. but tonight... it all came flowing out of me. it's long. it's rambling. it's honest. but i wrote for me. it was just time. feel free to read whatever you want. peace.

a 2010 epiphany

today, january 6, is epiphany. i love that word. i love this day. though i must admit that i didn't think much about it until tonight. i mentioned the celebration of epiphany only once, after hearing a student say he was playing joseph in a play at church tonight. ok. to be completely honest, i had forgotten today was epiphany until he said that. in any case, i've been thinking about this particular, usually forgotten, and rarely celebrated christian holiday since he mentioned his play. i have an image of epiphany i'd like to share...

epiphany.jpg (750×574)
image from here

it's not your typical three magi, or wise men, following a star. epiphany is the celebration/remembrance of the magi and their journey following a star to the christ child. so, light, stars, magi...those are the typical images of today. however, i love this image...there is a woman, who perhaps is reaching for or yearning for the light. there are natural, earthy things all around her...butterflies, flowers. there is what i think is a broken chain. to me, it represents freedom which comes from searching and journeying to discover who you really are. it's chaotic and beautiful all at the same time.

whatever epiphany is, it is celebration of the journey. the journey of life. or self-discovery. or spirituality. or truth. the magi journeyed for 2 years from their homeland because they saw a star. and they trusted their instincts which told them to simply go. they left home, journeyed to another land, and followed a star to find the way. not exactly what others might consider to be smart, practical decision.

but they reached their destination. they found the newborn king...the christ child. but, not a king in palace...a baby, in a stable, with smelly animals, and young parents. yet they came bearing gifts and accepted with joy the circumstances in which they found their king. a little unexpected, perhaps, but right. i think they knew it was right. you know? like when something turns out to be completely not what you expected, and yet, just perfect. you just know.

then, after this brief, life-changing expeprience, they returned home following another 2 year journey. they did not travel the same road that took them to the baby. but, a different path. they were changed men. so, their path home was different, and when they arrived, i can only imagine what it must have been like to report their experiences to others. would others understand? would they been ridiculed, made fun of, and even disliked because of their travels and experiences?

the image above inspires me to think of a woman's journey toward light and truth. i read a book (2 epiphany's ago actually) called eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert. it is her story of the events which led up to an amazing epiphany in her life. following a divorce and a desire to know herself, elizabeth took off and traveled to italy, india, and indonesia for a year. she left everything behind and journeyed in search of her true self, and love. today, i got her next book, committed. in this book, she writes of her journey back following the experiences of her first epiphany (the end of the first book). this new book takes her deeper into love of herself and her partner.

when i read the first book, i realized that my life was taking a similar path. i was going through a divorce and planning to leave everything behind to move to denmark...no plans, just going. my instincts, my gut, God...all were telling me to just go. like the magi. like elizabeth gilbert. like abraham (my biblical mentor at that time in my life). just go. and i did... even though i felt the stares and heard the whispers of others. i journeyed away from my homeland to some place new. and i did encounter, like the magi, christ - in the middle of everyday life in denmark. like elizabeth, i encountered and met myself in a much deeper way. and then, after the brief encounter was over, i was completely changed. i had experienced love. love of a very present God in everyday life, real love of myself for the first time, and the love of my life...my wife, my partner. so, i began my journey back to my homeland, and i have been on that journey for the past year now. going back a different way from which i came. because i am different. and yet the same.

my epiphany in 2010 is the realization of the light and freedom that i have experienced over the past 2 years. i am a changed person. my perspective has changed because of the love i have found. and now, i begin again. there is another star shining brightly in my life. another path to follow. i have completed my first journey, and i didn't know it until tonight. and tonight, i also begin my new journey. one that is deeper. one that i share with the most important person in my life.

perhaps every journey we take is simply a journey deeper and deeper into love, and into a fuller understanding of who we truly are. it's not an easy journey. nor one that others will understand perhaps. but, it is worth every step. just a few days ago, on new year's eve to be exact, i was talking with some swedes about being willing to risk it all, to live life to the fullest. i remember saying that i was never going to be an old lady of 85, sitting in a rocking chair, wondering "what if...". so, i had to go. like the magi, i knew that love was waiting. i had no idea what to expect, but i had to go. in search of love. in search of myself. in search of God on earth. what i found, what i encountered, and what i learned was more amazing than i ever could have imagined.

epiphanies are amazing, powerful, unexpected moments. they are chaotic and beautiful.

the asheville groove

i must sleep. the jet lag has set in. but, it's been so great to have had 2 good days at work to help me get back into the groove of everyday reality in the states. to begin with, it's been snowing here a little and really cold. enough to give us a 2 hour delay monday and tuesday. i admit that enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning, taking my time getting ready, and leaving at 8:45 is something i could get used to. but, i have a feeling it will be a normal day tomorrow. nevertheless, it has been so helpful in re-adjusting to workdays after such a fantasticly (yep. i think i just made up that word) relaxing holiday. and...my students have been really great! enjoyable, even! one of them, who has some significant behavior issues, actually asked me to walk with him to class (long story...i have to escort him everyday, but he has done well for the past month and earned some more freedom), and we had a great discussion as we walked together. another student stopped by my room and asked me if i could help him with a project tomorrow (this kid never wants to do work, misses school because he is in jail lots of times). it was weird in a good way today. but, i cherish these little moments that remind me why i do what i do.

so, even though it's been tough emotionally for the past 3 days, daily life has been kind to me. or perhaps it's just my perspective. i guess we can choose our attitudes. and even though i feel empty and somewhat alone; even though nothing is completely right when i'm away from my love, there are little things all around that, if i notice, have the ability to bring a tiny smile to my face. relaxing mornings, friendly students, messages of support & celebration from friends, dinner with family, my love's amazing voice and constant presence...all these things help me get back into the asheville groove. they remind me that all shall be well.

now. sleep... peace.

the beatles bringing people together

yesterday i was in terminal c at newark international airport. if you have heard the news today, then you know that there was a security issue last night that caused chaos...someone went the wrong way through security and in an attempt to locate the person, authorities had everyone in terminal c (and it's a BIG terminal) go back through security. even those on planes had to get off and go back through. and planes were grounded for hours. luckily, my plane took off just before this chaos took place. though, i did hear what i believe were alarms going off for about 30 minutes indicating that something was wrong.

anyway...in the midst of a crappy, crowded, stressful time for so many people, one man decided to make the best of the situation. love it. amazing.

soon, sverige

tonight my emotions are quite opposite than my last post. and it feels weird to write about the sadness, emptiness, and pain i feel right now just above the post about the most amazing day of my life, and all the overwhelming, ecstatic feelings i felt then.

i am back in nc and my love, my wife, is in sweden. crazy. and it's gonna be this way for the next 5 months. it feels crappy. all i want is for us to be together. but, it will take these 5 months of preparation and separation in order to make it possible for us to be together permanently. and we believe that this is the last separation we have to face. that is what i am holding on to right now. i am working hard to train my brain to focus on that.

so, hello nc. i'll be with you alone for a while. my love will join me here in 5 months. but doesn't this time apart help me appreciate the love we have? doesn't the darkness make the light that much brighter? don't i fall in love over and over again? won't despair once again be taken over by joy? for now, though, it's winter. soon it will be spring. soon, sverige. will you wait for me?