fall to do list

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fall / list / to do / Uncategorized

Hello and welcome to September! If you’re like me, you’re probably sitting there wondering how the hell it is already September(??!!)… but here we are. And that means it is officially time for my seasonal bucket list, which is, essentially, a list of things that either get me excited for the season to come or help keep me on track to accomplish larger goals.

However, this year’s fall To Do list is going to be a bit different. The last time I wrote one of these lists, I was still living in Colorado. For almost eight years, my life was based in Fort Collins and revolved around the charming traditions and annual events of the city (Tour de Fat, New West Fest, going to the Pumpkin Patch, to name a few). Now that we live in Uppsala, Sweden, it’s time to make some new traditions and what better way to come up with ideas than to make a fall To Do list? Keep reading for the full list!

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1. Bake an apple pie. The apple tree in the photo above is in our backyard and, as you can see, is overflowing with these tart, sweet little red apples that are just begging to baked in a pie crust with brown sugar and cinnamon 🙂

2. Start knitting again! I have the needles, so I just need to get my act together and buy some wool…

3. Continue running. I started running off and on again this summer, and I’ve been so looking forward to the cooler temps (although I will miss the option to jump in the lake after every run).

4. Plan and book our trip to Morrocco later this year for both C’s and my birthdays (I’m turning 30!)

5. Have a scary movie night (I really want to see Hereditary!) complete with candy and popcorn.

6. Make our home smell like the season with some new scented candles

7. Go mushroom-hunting in the forest

8. Meditate daily with an extra focus on gratitude. I started meditating this summer, every day for 5 minutes, and would love to keep this habit up throughout the fall and winter. With its short days, long nights, and freezing temperatures, winter in Sweden can be tough, and I want to try to pre-empt any SAD symptoms with lots of time outside, frequent exercise, a healthy diet, and a daily gratitude practice.

I think that’s probably good for now. What do you think? What’s on your fall To Do list? I’d love to hear what’s making you excited about this season 🙂

xxLena

eight things i’d tell my younger self

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advice / lately / Uncategorized / youth

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Being the eldest of three children, I was, by default, the ‘guinea pig’ of the family; the first of my siblings to do or go through almost everything – puberty, school, friends, relationships, you name it – with no older sibling to advise or buffer against my (inevitable) future mistakes and mishaps. I remember so badly wanting an older sister or brother to show me the ropes, so that I wouldn’t have to be the one to do it. Luckily, I did have my parents to fall back on, but it’s not quite the same as having someone nearer to your age, who grew up in a similar environment and culture, to help you navigate the way through.

Sometimes I wonder about what I’d tell myself or what I’d do different if I could go back and chat with my 19-year-old self. I wonder if 19-year-old-Lena would even listen to 29-year-old-Lena! Knowing me, probably not. But if I could go back, here are a few of the things I’d try to drill into my young self.

36926095_10160415635960532_3126129480112799744_oSay, ‘YES’
You’ve declined so many things out of fear, and that makes you so sad! The things that you’ll be most proud of when you look back are the things that you did even though they scared the living shit out of you. Things like moving to a new city for college, getting your Swedish driver’s license (dear Lord), moving to a new country for an internship, applying to grad school, getting your first ‘real’ job, and more. Some of these were not necessarily positive experiences (like calling out your ex bf for his shitty behaviour or quitting a job that wasn’t making you happy), but every time you do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, you always feel better afterwards. Even if you fail! Because you know that at least you tried, and did not allow fear to make decisions for you.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetBut also learn to say, ‘No’.
Obviously, it’s important to say yes to things that you want to do but decline out of fear or uncertainty. On the flip side, this is also the time to start the ever-important, lifelong task of learning to say, ‘No’ to others. I think, when we’re young (and especially if you’re a woman), we’re afraid of saying no because we don’t feel like we have true autonomy over ourselves yet. But feeling empowered to say no to things is just as, if not more, important as feeling empowered to say yes. This is a tough balancing act to figure out, but what it really teaches you is to tune in to your authentic self and identify what you truly want and desire, regardless of what others want or expect. You don’t owe anyone anything, so innately knowing what you want and need is essential in making decisions that will feel right both long- and short-term.

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Love, love, love, love, LOVE your body
WEAR THE SWIMSUIT. GO SKINNY DIPPING. EAT THE PIZZA. You only get one body, one life, and they’re both too important to waste ANY time feeling bad about how you look. Seriously, tell the voices in your head, the ones telling you you’re not good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc., to FUCK RIGHT OFF, pardon my French. No one is looking at you or judging you, and even if they are, it’s because THEY are insecure. When you don’t care about what anyone thinks, you stop judging others either, because who really even cares what anyone looks like? You’ll want to look back on that beautiful summer day and remember the important things, like the heat of the sun on your skin, how icy cold the lake was when you first jumped in, that first, delicious bite of a perfectly juicy nectarine, the sound of people laughing and chatting around you, or the feel of your dog’s soft head laying against your knee as he snores…NOT how miserable you were because you hated your thighs. Love your body, and thank it every day for being there.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetGet help when you need it
Not that you can’t get help when you’re older, but now is THE TIME to get the help you need (and we both know you’re going to need it). Those things that are bugging you will not go away magically, and dealing with them now is much, MUCH easier than stuffing them away and having them follow you, lurking behind every corner. As a student, there are countless resources that are easy to access and free or affordable. Go to those ‘lame’ interpersonal support groups at your school’s counselling centre. These groups will by no means be fun, but they will help you so much to get out of your head and hear other people’s issues. They’ll also make you feel like you’re not a total weirdo for experiencing things or feeling the way you do. The hardest part is making the decision to get help, but just do it. Pick up the phone, make the appointment, be totally honest, and keep going back.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetTravel more/sleep less
This is one that I commend you on, past-self. While I in NO WAY think that getting older or having children or any of that means that you can’t travel as freely as you want (my parents are proof), I do think that there is something about being young that makes you much more resilient to ‘rough traveling’, as I call it. By this, I mean the kind of travel where you get a super cheap flight but it’s at 3am at the crappy local airport with only two gates, or book one hotel room to share with five other girlfriends and take shifts sleeping in the bed, or arrive somewhere with no idea where to go or what to do and barely any money. As you get older, your budget, and therefore your standards for traveling will inevitably go up, but for now just focus on creating memories during those kind-of-crappy-but-also-totally-awesome trips. Soon you’ll be able to shell a little more money for a direct flight or a nearby hotel, but having experienced the budget airlines and out-of-town hostels will only make you appreciate the little upgrades more.

mom jeans x 4: weekendNever worry about being ‘cool’
There are so many situations where, instead of showing your real feelings (curiosity, excitement, nervousness, whatever), you act blasé and stuck up to keep up the appearance of being ‘cool’. You think that being cool is about acting unimpressed, bored, in a been-there-done-that kind of way. Well, guess what? That attitude doesn’t make you cool, it makes you look like an un-approachable jackass. It zaps the energy and enthusiasm out of others, and it makes you cynical and lame to be around. You get only ONE life, little Lena, and most of the people you meet that are good and that you want to keep in your life don’t give a shit about you or anyone else being cool. They like you because you’re over-the-top, silly, enthusiastic, awkward, real, and experience the same human emotions as everyone else. Being ‘cool’ is overrated, and the only truly cool people are those who don’t care what anyone thinks of them, regardless of how ‘uncool’ that is.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetBe realistic about adult relationships
This will be one of the toughest things for you to learn, I think. Relationships are hard, especially as an adult, and for you, being realistic about them will mean realising that no relationship will ever be ‘perfect’. Some will be long-term, some less long. Some will be smooth and steady, others rocky and short-lived. Some will teach you a lot about yourself, and some will teach you about other people. While this might make you sad or overwhelmed at times, be sure to always appreciate everyone who comes into your life for the person that they are and the unique things they bring with them. Let go when you need to, fight for things when you need to, and, above all else, be kind.

f6f09-san-diego-day-three-four-83Stop comparing
Just stop. You are you. ONLY YOU. Not anyone else. Your experiences, your life, your choices, your advantages, your skills, your brain, your heart, cannot, I repeat, CANNOT possibly be compared to those of any other person out there. Envy is a useless and toxic emotion, because not only does it put you down and make you feel like crap, it minimizes the fact that other people also go through tough things and have less-than-desirable circumstances. If you find yourself feeling jealous of someone, go talk to them about their life and ask how they’re really doing. I guarantee you’ll uncover something that you couldn’t have known from stalking their Instagram profile or LinkedIn page (anyone else do this, too?? Lol). The world is abundant in it’s possibilities, and there is more than enough to go around. Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to accept your journey for what it is.


So, what do you guys think? Have anything to add? Something odd about being young is that being young is all you know, so you really can’t imagine not being young and having all the time in the world to do things. Which is kind of true, but also not. The truth is that no one knows how much time they have, or how many chances they’ll get. Whatever age you are, RIGHT NOW is the perfect chance to do the things you are afraid of. Not tomorrow, or next year, or in five years. As always, that’s much easier said than done but I’m continuously working on it 🙂

xxLena

wedding anniversary in säby

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anniversary / beautiful / celebration / lately / life / stockholm / summer / Uncategorized

Two weeks ago, Conrad and I celebrated our three-year wedding anniversary with a little staycation at a charming hotel in the Stockholm archipelago. Though we are usually quite low-key about our anniversary, this year we felt like doing something a bit more special.

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Thankfully, I remembered that I had a gift card from my office from Christmas last year that was expiring this (!!) month, so I got online and looked at what gift options were offered, and saw that one option was to book an overnight stay at a boutique inn with a 3-course dinner. Sold!

We chose Säby Säteri, an old Swedish mansion-turned-hotel & conference center, surrounded by forest, meadows, and the rocky coast of the Baltic Sea.

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAfter checking in, we took a brief pause to start the weekend right, toasting to our wedding, and the whirlwind years we’ve had since that very fun weekend.

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After exploring the gorgeous hotel grounds, we changed into some comfy clothes and took a short walk to the seaside before dinner.

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Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetMy handsome date ❤

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetSeeing as this was a holiday, I did not bring my DSLR camera so I only have these iPhone pics to share, but I’m not that sad because not having my camera allowed me to truly relax and enjoy some quiet time with my love. I wish I had taken more photos of the food though, because it was DI-VINE. Truly delicious, fresh, and made from only local ingredients, not to mention the impeccable wine pairings offered.

IMG_6776576After an amazing night’s sleep, we woke up feeling happy, relaxed, and hungry for breakfast! Again, no photos taken as my phone battery had died, but the breakfast spread did not disappoint, with fresh fruit, smoothies, eggs, bacon, toast, pastries, you name it.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetIMG_6808Not going to lie…it was pretty hard to leave this stunning place!

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Processed with VSCO with f2 presetAnd now, having really enjoyed the summer as much as possible, we both feel completely ready for a change of season. Bring it on, A/W18! And thank you to Säby Säteri for a wonderful anniversary celebration; we will definitely be back.

Have a great week,

xxLena

Hotel Information:
Säby Säteri
Tel: 08-570 267 00
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an ode to Swedish summer

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Uncategorized

Summer in Sweden is such a gamble. Normally, the season is a roller coaster of a few beautiful days sandwiched between weeks (sometimes months) of clouds, rain, and thunderstorms. High temps usually max out at 25-27°C (about 75-80°F), and it always, always, ALWAYS rains on Midsummer’s eve.

While we did get rain on Midsummer (tradition!), the rest of this summer has been completely out of the ordinary. Days and days of 30°C heat, sunshine, and a light breeze sent all of Sweden into a fan-purchasing frenzy – seriously, they’re sold out everywhere. While the sudden change in weather is a bit frightening, not to mention the fact that forest fires are at an all-time high and a grill-ban has been declared nation-wide, we’re content finding ways to beat the heat and enjoy the perks of a warm, dry summer.

This is Conrad’s and my first ‘official’ summer in Sweden since moving last year (he was in Kenya for most of last summer), and we have been enjoying every last drop it.  I’m really mostly sharing this so that when it’s November and dark at 2pm,  I can pull up this post and remember why the winters are worth it! You’ll get a better idea from the photos, but basically we have been living in a kind of utopian Swedish fairytale, complete with wild strawberries and raspberries outside our home, daily hikes in the forest followed by daily jumps in the lake, picnics, mosquito bites, delicious food, dog friends, city sightseeing, magical lake views, and so much more.

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Fjällnorra, a public beach across the lake from us

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Crossing the floating bridge on the trail to Fjällnorra, with my oldest best friend Nora!

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Our little cabin ❤

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Secret private spot on the lake – perfect for playing catch.

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FYI, this photo was taken before the grill/fire ban 🙂

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Happiest dog in the world

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Exploring Stockholm’s south west side

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Daily swim with pups

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Dancing around the midsummer pole, or midsommarstång during the short break from rain!

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Midsummer feast, complete with local craft beer and a snaps sampler

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Rhubard (from the garden) topped vanilla poundcake

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Smultron!

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If this hasn’t convinced you to visit Sweden (in the summer, obvs), I don’t know what will. Thank you Sweden for your wonderful summers, this is definitely one that will go down in the books!

xxLena

T minus five months to 30

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adult / adulting / life / lifestyle / random / real life / thirty / thoughts / Uncategorized

I know, logically, that turning 30 is not a big deal. Emotionally, however, it is a big deal, to me anyway. While I’d love to be able to say that I’m completely immune to the hegemonic, old-fashioned, patriarchal bullsh*t that surrounds our society, I’m of course not. I do feel panicked about turning 30. I am not sure why, but I do. If you’re older than 30, you may be thinking, ‘lol, JUST WAIT ‘TILL 40’, or ‘ehh, 30 is no biggie’, and I’m sure you’re right, but for some stupid reason I have been feeling panicky all year at the thought of no longer being in my 20s.

66583_10151055023410957_1924486931_nIs it because I’m not where I thought I’d be at 30? Not really, to be honest. As someone who wasn’t sure she’d ever get married, I’m surprised and pleased almost daily at the fact that I managed to find a life partner. Career-wise, I definitely have days where I think, ‘What am I doing, where am I going, is this what I want to do, WILL PEOPLE FIGURE OUT THAT I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING??’, but, for the most part, I feel pretty secure in the path I’m on. Baby/family-wise, I know I’m not ready so am not even thinking about that yet. With the move to Sweden last year, things have definitely not been settled or ‘normal’ by any means, but, as I’ve shared, everything so far has worked out.

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Maybe it has to do more with saying goodbye to my twenties than it does embracing my thirties…My twenties were such a roller coaster of self-discovery, and I suppose in many ways turning 30 is like being in 8th grade and finally, FINALLY getting the hang of middle school before being thrust into high school as a freshmen, starting over once more, scared and, well, fresh.

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After ten (seemingly) long years, I’m just starting to feel comfortable with myself as an adult…does turning 30 mean everything I’ve come to learn and accept will be thrown into orbit? Is this the beginning of the end of my ‘youth’ (as I know it)? Do I feel ready to give up being a stupid, flighty twenty-something, and all the excuses that come with being that age? Does turning 30 mean that I have to suddenly know all the things I still don’t know, like how to invest money, or buy a home, or choose the right life insurance plan? Aren’t I supposed to know these things by the time I’m 30? I have five more months…WHEN AM I GOING TO LEARN THESE THINGS???

395696_10152537412855532_1367318884_n297725_10150365924658859_1471888950_n13680467_10153605756805957_5289777892517197459_o1174894_10151546462895957_1754228885_nI apologize for the rambling nature of this post, but this has been something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time, if only to get my thoughts out of my head and onto my screen. I’m almost certain that, if I’m still blogging in ten years, I’ll look back at this post and either laugh or feel pity towards my young, naive self…but I also hope that, should I still be blogging in ten years, I’ll read this post and feel empathy and love for this confused, anxious girl. It’s likely that in ten years I still WON’T have figured anything out, but that’s ok! Because isn’t that what life is? A constant, moving target that none of us can make sense of?

Instead, I hope that I look back and think happily about the journey, about the ups and downs that brought me wherever I’ll be then.

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314330_10150273011600957_5817489_nHere’s to the last few months of being an anxious, goofy, all-over-the-place twenty-something, to honouring this path (triumphs, mistakes and all), the place I’m in today, and to figuring things out with courage, kindness, and a modicum of grace.

36926095_10160415635960532_3126129480112799744_o.jpgCheers!

xxLena