My AHA (Love) Moment

I tend to have an aha moment when I am fully immersed in ordinary things liking folding laundry or brushing my teeth. It happens during these moments of absolute presence when my mind is calm and quiet enough to let the insights and clarity come through.

I had an aha moment the other day while riding my bike from the yoga studio back home. It’s a short ride, maybe five minutes or so, and the journey has turned into a little race. I made a sharp left turn, looked over my shoulder and noticed the Lucky Buddha, a borderline grungy yet charming restaurant I have passed many times. Then something hit me so clearly that I don’t know how I didn’t realize it sooner. I am living in Sweden and absolutely loving it! 

Ludde and I at Way out West Music Festival in Göteborg
Ludde and I at Way out West Music Festival in Göteborg

No matter how easy I anticipate any transition to be, life changes can be challenging on so many levels and it takes time for my mind, body and heart to integrate these changes. From the first day, part of me loved being in Sweden. Other parts of me were internally processing everything around me. The biggest aspect has been settling into my now non-long distant relationship with Ludde.

I love getting to spend each day with him. I have learned so much about him, myself and what it means to be in an intimate relationship at this point in my life. He and I very much share similar visions for our lives and where we like to invest our time. It feels like we are growing together. We challenge, support, and strive to understand one another. It’s wonderful, scary, and beautiful all at the same time. There have been many moments when I feel in awe that Ludde and I found each other.

We met 4 1/2 years ago in Ecuador. A crew of Swedes and Coloradans collided while surfing and drinking one too many piña coladas. I barely remember having more than a few conversations with Ludde and not because of the drinks but because one-on-one conversation only happened a handful of times in that 6 week period.

The day Colorado Crew left Canoa
February 2011 – The day the Colorado Crew left Canoa, Ecuador – Pictured: Half from Colorado, half from Sweden and one Dutch. 7 out of 10 of us got tattoos within a week; besides Vernon and I, it was everyone’s first tattoo. 

We stayed in touch over the next couple of years with the occasional Facebook “travel friend check in.” The “where have you been?” and “where are you going?” type of contact that fellow travels make to connect to a time they were once together or to live vicarously through each others adventures.

Fast forward to April 2014, while on a family trip in Mexico, I woke up with Canoa on the brain. Maybe it was the ocean air or the fruity hotel drinks but on some level I was taken back to Ecuador.

Canoa sunset
Some of my favorite moments are watching the sunsets from the beach or in the water sitting on a surf board. 

I reached out to Ludde via Facebook and that started a chain of messages that developed into emails, Skype calls and more or less daily contact which brought us almost a year forward to February of this year. Not knowing where this unfamiliar path was taking me, I worked up the courage to ask him when and where we would see each other again. He had never been to the States and soon we were planning a road trip out west. Having never tried online dating, the whole thing felt like modern day courting.

I was beyond nervous waiting for him at the airport. I received a call from immigration asking if I was waiting for someone from Sweden, what their name was and what our plans were for his time in the US. Immigration found it odd we had not see each other for 4 years. Minutes felt like hours as I waited with my “Welcome to Colorado” sign translated in Swedish. Because they questioned him about the purpose of his trip, he was the last one out. My heart was beating out of my chest but once I saw him again there was something so comfortable about being in his presence.

A road trip out west (via Santa Fe, Sedona, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, and St.George) and some solid time in the mountains was enough to keep us wondering more this relationship had to offer. A few months later he met me for 10 days in Uganda where he got to spend time with the student he helps sponsor and spend time another place I consider home.

Then came my turn to check out and explore his world (we joke and say Sweden is our third date). So far life in Helsingborg has kept me predominently drawn to the present moment. As cliché as it sounds, it sometimes feels like a dream being here.

At the same time, things are uncertain. I don’t know if or when I’ll be granted an extension of my tourist visa. It should have taken 6 weeks and I’m still waiting. I struggle with not being able to work. I’m returning to the States much sooner than I anticipated because without a residency/work permit I am unable to work and I’m very limited with how much I can participate in society (i.e. healthcare, getting any time of education, etc.).

The application for Swedish residency must be submitted from outside of Sweden and I have to be in the US during this time which means more time in a long distance relationship. I should have heard about the tourist visa extension weeks ago but with the devastating current Syrian refugee crisis (more thoughts on that soon), understandably I have heard nothing. That being said, I am so grateful for the opportunity to freely return to the my home country and to be able to choose where I want to live. In this case, I anticipate that it will take the full 9 months if not longer to hear back about my residency.

Despite this, there is something bigger happening. There is a greater purpose to the chaos of not knowing. I can feel an awareness around creating each day and noticing the impact this has on the trajectory of my life. This isn’t always easy to do and I can often feel like I’m not doing enough or I’m not as far along as I should/could be (this is getting magnified as I get closer to my 30th birthday), or worse, I compare my situation to others.

Then I take a deep breathe. I realize how much has happened, how much can change and I see how all the dots eventually connect. Getting a call from a best friend asking if I wanted to go to South America…waking up in Mexico and randomly (or not so randomly) thinking of Canoa…a few moments in time that lead me to where I am now.

Things are happening and coming together even if at times I don’t feel a strong forward momentum.

I’ve been here for three months and I truly feel like I’m nesting. It feels like a new home. I trust that feeling the most when moments of uncertainty creep in. I’ll take the aha moments as they come, stringing together one experience to the next. I arrive where I am in perfect timing.

Much love,


PS With a little help from my friends, I changed my blog name. I was feeling a change. Soul-panda is now DriftingRoots. 🙂

6 thoughts on “My AHA (Love) Moment

  1. Nkwenda!!!!! I couldn’t be more filled with gratitude and love as I am to hear you so filled with gratitude and love! Living in and cherishing each moment and the lessons that come with it…. That’s what I’ve learned is what it’s all about.

  2. Dear Stephanie, Your insight is amazing. You are correct to accept events as they happen and very fortunate to see life unfolding in your favor because of your ability to go with your instincts and let the rest of the pieces fall into place! So pleased to hear from you. Hi to Ludde!

  3. Darrell

    Oct.20th 2015 after a great steak dinner with mushrooms and a baked potato and Louise’s house salad

    There you go again ! Another episode in the ongoing saga of my favorite world traveler.. Almost sounds like the traveling may slow in the the coming months as you sound pretty happy in Sweden.
    On the other hand, I can’t see you eating those strange fish dishes and I hope you are staying away from Aquavit ( I believe Norwegian ) Pretty wicked stuff I probably spelled it wrong !

    I hope everything plays out the way you want it to…..As you deserve it….Best to the Swede !!! dj

    1. We had a similar dinner the other night with elk! 🙂 The traveling may slow down, but the adventure will not. I have had my share of snaps (pronounced schnapps)…one type is aquavit. My next blog post is just for you…all about fishing our own crayfish and having a big crayfish party with loads of singing and snaps. 🙂 Ludde says hello!

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