Things end, but memories last forever

Four year ago today, I ran my first ever half marathon. I remember standing at the start line feeling anxious, questioning my ability to do it but yet telling myself I could do this. I turn and see him standing right there next to me and I felt reasured that I would be able to do this with him beside me. After all I had paid to be here and trained really hard for this moment and having the person I loved by my side, everything seemed possible. I put my music on and keep going, afterall my goal was being able to cross that finish line and I did it and I had never felt so proud of myself. Of course half way through it, I was ready to give up, hang up my running shoes and find a sport that required less energy and maybe more sitting around.

However, fast forward through the 4 years, I have run numerous half-marathons, a marathon and now getting ready for another marathon and a few more half marathons this year. I no longer question my sanity nor my ability to do it or have the desire to quit. Running has become this huge part of my life. If I am planning a vacation, running gear is always included and time to run is always in the schedule.

It seems without a doubt I get a little sentimental and emotional around this time of the year. I run this same race every year, because it has so many memories attached to it. The struggles, the accomplishments and how running saved me. Maybe that statement sounds dramatic, but when I first started running, it was as a way to cope with a broken heart.

My broken heart was healed only to be broken again.  Despite that, this race reminds me of my ex. We may have gone our separate ways and not spoken to each other in years, but how could I forget the person who was there with me and ran this race and supported me and encouraged me the entire time. Without a doubt when I stand there again at the start line, my thoughts will go back to that first race.

It has taken a lot of sweat and tears to get to the point where, four years later I can run this race and think of the positive influence he had in my life, because I have realized that feeling  bitter and resentful is a waste of energy.

Sometimes life takes us in different directions, but I believe that every person comes into our life for a reason and sometimes as the saying goes for a season.

Times does heal broken hearts and life goes on, some memories start to fade, while some remain strong and I am glad that despite all the challenges I have faced, that I have learnt that it is better to hold on to the good and let go of the bad memories.

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I finally call myself a runner

I never called myself a runner, at least not until recently. Despite the fact that I run miles and miles and have run numerous half marathons and a marathon  and training to run the Marine Corps Marathon this year, I felt uncomfortable considering myself a runner. My runs depended on my mood, the weather, free time and I could find every excuse to not run. But recently that all changed.

Maybe the fact that I am trying to push myself beyond my comfort zone to do things that has made me change my mind. I wake up at 6 am on a daily basis for a run, its raining outside, I still force myself to lace up my shoes and go run a few miles at least. It has been challenging to push myself beyond my comfort zone, but I am trying to force my mind to corporate with doing things that make me uncomfortable.

 

The fact that I am trying to embark on a journey of working for myself, to chase this dream I have had for years has not been easy either, but despite the fact that I get disheartened from time to time and ready to throw in the towel and crawl back to a 9-5 job, I am still holding my own trying to make it work out.

If someone had told me that working for myself would leave me with little time for anything besides working, I would have pooh-pooh the idea. However, even though everything I do, leaves me little time for writing, reading or fun stuff with friends, this is turning out to be quite a journey. I am learning my strengths and weaknesses and that my obsession for perfection is not always in my best interest. There are times I bake something and I find myself so unhappy with the end product that I remake it. My friends who have been my support system through all this, tell me that I am being too hard on myself, while they enjoy eating what I think is not up to my standards.

I feel that I have set a standard for my customers and I have to constantly strive to maintain that. If I have a catering gig, I drive myself crazy for days, about what I will make to how I will transport it and how I will ensure that it all comes together at the last-minute. Fortunately, my customers have trusted me enough to leave all the decision-making to me.

My best friend who lived out-of-state has moved back to try to help me get things off the ground. I have to confess my obsessive nature in the kitchen makes it hard. However, she has worked with me before so she understands that I am like a drill sergeant in a kitchen and want things to be right and perfect. I am working on learning to let go and learn to trust what she will do. But it is a natural instinct that I have when I am in a kitchen.

In order to distract myself from this obsession and just working all the time towards my goals, I decided to train for a marathon. I have wanted to run the Marine Corps Marathon for a very long time and since I seem to be on the road of doing things out of my comfort zone, this seemed like a good goal to add to my list.

Running has been my therapy for years, it will continue to be my therapy. But I am no longer a fair weather runner, I am a runner because I run no matter what. Running helped me heal my broken heart, but now I am hoping it will help me learn to enjoy this challenging journey I am on and not over working or over thinking. But no matter what happens, I am finally a runner and I run because I want to.

 

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Training my mind to overcome everything

Finding the time to put on my shoes and going for a run recently has been challenging. I wake up with every intention of going to run a few miles to clear my mind, however, when the time rolls around, I could barely muster the energy to put my shoes on and step outside. The same could be said for writing, I grab my computer to read and write, but my energy seems to be sapped making it unable to focus.

The fact that I no longer live near my favorite coffee shop, probably does not help either.  But just maybe, I have found a new place to sit and have a great cup of coffee with a little people watching thrown in to inspire me to write.

However, in order to stay on track with running and finding some down time for myself, I decided to start training for a full marathon. I set off this morning for a longer run than usual and I realized that more than training my body, I have to train my mind to stay focussed and keep going.

My mind seems to want to quit by the time I get to mile 5, however, in order to push myself and train my brain for 26.2 miles, I force myself to keep going.

Training to push myself beyond my limits and out of my comfort zone seems to be the new  norm for me. I talked endlessly about wanting to move, but it doesn’t seem to be the right time for that right now. I have been inspired to finally start chasing my dream of working for myself. I have to say it has been challenging and sometimes making me want to throw in the towel and go find a job and be a slave to someone else, however, that’s where my mind comes into play and I force myself to stay focussed.

Getting something off the ground seems to challenge me more than I have ever been challenged. The easier thing would be to walk away and not worry about it. However, considering I have been having a lot of new customers who appreciate my hard work and out of the box thinking, forces me to stay on track. The catering gigs seem to be rolling in, keeping me busy in the kitchen.

I have been pushing the envelope with new ideas and using more spices such as saffron for desserts and rose petal jam to add a different dimension of flavor.

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Lemon Bar with strawberry

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Strawberry tart with saffron cream

 

Pushing myself beyond my limits is new, setting goals and trying to achieve it is hard because I am one who gets side tracked easily, but I am trying to reel myself in and stay focused and force my mind to go beyond my comfort level.

Is it gonna be worth it? I don’t know yet. But I know that at the end I’ll be grateful for the experience and for learning that sometimes you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve dreams.

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Exploring new places

My heart was racing as I was driving towards the airport to pick him up. It has been two years since we last saw each other and so much has happened in that time that I was not sure if this was a good or bad idea.  But here I am now and there is no turning back.

I met him 2 years ago at an airport waiting for our flights to different destinations, where we had a long layover in the same destination. We spent all that time talking and laughing over dinner and drinks.  I wrote about him then. ( (click here) However, even though we had every intention of meeting again, life got in the way and the plan slipped by. However, we did talk, text and exchange emails occasionally.

When I got back to the US after my trip, he suddenly decided it was time to come visit. Considering I had plans to drive to Asheville NC, this seemed like a good time for a road trip.

After an 8-hour drive, we finally reached the quaint B&B in the outskirts of Asheville on a rainy evening. We spent the next few days exploring downtown Asheville, hiking and drinking beer at some local breweries and even made a trip to Carl Sandburg’s house.  However, by day 3, I decided that maybe this was not the place for me. I can’t say what it was that made me make that decision, but I had to trust my gut feeling.

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Now that Asheville was off my list, I had to check out the next place, which was Colorado. So despite all good intentions of me thinking that I wont be getting on a plane or stepping into an airport anytime soon, here I am again, sipping on over priced coffee listening to people talk loudly about their trips on their phones.

I stumbled out of my flight in Denver, CO on a late night, groggy from the night flight and the 2 hour time difference to see him again standing outside the waiting area for me.

The next day we drove around Wyoming admiring the open wide roads I had heard so much about. We took a drive towards the mountains and explored some of the state parks, during which we drove on dusty country roads with trees making its attempts to spring back to life and from time to time a stream would flow in between. I was in awe. Had I finally the place that might work for me?  After all I did say I wanted a place with a lot of outdoor activity, open space and not a big city and this seemed to be all of that and more, despite the fact that it even snowed one day.

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We drove around different cities including Fort Collins in Colorado and I was absolutely captured by my surroundings.

During all the road trips as should be, we listened and sang off-key to country music on the outskirts of the country roads.

I even had the chance to experience elk, moose and rocky mount oysters (if you are unsure what it is, I will let google explain that to you).

Driving to Denver was my favorite part. The sun was beating down on me and glistening on the snow-capped mountains as we drove on the open roads South on I25,  as I sat admiring the big blue sky and the endless open space.  The endless cattle you see seems to outnumber the people. We were lucky to see Elk, Moose roaming the prairie too.

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The snow-capped mountains

We made a stop at red rock amphitheater and explored and hiked around there too.

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Is this the place for me? I wish I had answer to that question, but for now, this place has captured me.

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The fine line of friendships

 

It is 2 am and I am suddenly woken up by a dream. I lay staring at the fan go round and round. I keep counting the blades, one, two, three, four, five, and on and on I go, trying to recall what it was that suddenly woke me up. But my mind remains blank and the fan blades remain at five, continuing to whir slowly.

As it is common for me, I tend to think of strange things at 2 am and this is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately – ‘Friendships’!  What makes someone a good friend? Most often I think I know the answer, but to be honest, I really don’t and it is something I have been pondering about a lot during my runs as well.

I have touched on this from time to time and have had numerous discussions about it with a couple of people I consider my best friends.  My friend D says he thinks someone is a good friend if they put the same effort into friendship as you do. “When you need them are they there for you?” is what another says. The debate continues because it is obviously a matter of opinion. But at the end I think we all can agree that friendship is a two way street and effort is needed to maintain it.

Recently my list of friends have been dwindling down rapidly and most often not on their part but because I have been over thinking the idea of friends and what it means and therefore putting distance between me and some friends. It does hurt to put distance between friends who were once important, but I have accepted that it is more important to cherish the people who chose to make an effort to maintain the friendship as well.

It is such a fine line between all the different types of friendships and it’s always a case of some crossing over from acquaintance to friend or vice versa depending on the circumstances.

In life if people who want to be friends with you, will make an effort to stay and never think of you as clingy at the time you need someone to talk to. They will always be there for you, the same way you will be there for them. You can tell them any type of problem and they won’t judge you or call you emotional.

Those who drive 2 hours in the middle of the night and spend hours waiting for me to land at an airport, without doubt probably falls into friends category, along with those who live across the country but who offer to open their home and let me stay till I figure out where I am going or what I am gonna do, as is the ones who offer to help me chase after a dream or help me with my job hunt.

I have realized that it is important to make friendships that are deeper than gossiping or going out. I want friends I can get breakfast with, who I can cry with, if necessary and whose who support my life goals and believe in me. Isn’t that what friendship is about?

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PICKING UP THE PIECES ISN’T ALWAYS EASY

It has been a few weeks since I have been back in the US and I have to say adjusting to being back has been harder than I thought it would be. Maybe it is the fact that I am still confused as to where I want to go or what I want to do or maybe that I just don’t want to live here anymore. I thought I would be able to pick up the pieces right where I left off. However, 6 months away didn’t give me any clarity as to where I want to go or what I want to do, but instead it has made it more complex.

I still dream about my months in Europe and in Sri Lanka and I wish I could pack my bags and just move there. But unfortunately reality is far different from dreams.

In order to try to get my mind back to being here and in hopes of adjusting, I sit sipping coffee at my favorite coffee shop, after which I go for a long run around the area trying to accept the reality of things .

I am trying to cling onto every ounce I have to stay focussed and adjust. I finally signed up to run a half marathon, one that I have done a few years in a row, hoping against hope that these little things that are familiar to me would be what would help me get my mind on track.

Running 13 miles is a great way to force your mind to think about everything besides running for miles. My mind drifts from one thing to another, but I finally just listen to my music and let my feet do what its supposed to.

Despite all of that and support from my friends, the struggle continues.

Maybe it is the fact that finding a job is taking its toll on me. I am trying to hold onto finding my dream job and writing 500 words as to why I should be hired is harder than I thought, even though I consider myself a writer. Apparently writing “I am awesome” does not count, not even if it is adds up to a 500 word count.  :))

Even though I continue to say that I don’t want a job in a restaurant or food related, it seems those are the offers heading my way. I reluctantly turn them down, but take on some private gigs as a personal chef just to keep my sanity intact, because at the end writing, running, cooking/baking is what keeps me sane to a great extent.

My friends tell me that I am being hard on myself. I have to reluctantly agree, it has only been a few weeks since I have been back and adjusting takes time, after all I am only human. My lack of patience makes it hard to sit around waiting for things to happen. Maybe this is a lesson on patience and for me to accept that I am only human and most often things do work out at the end.

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My ides of March 

It’s almost 3 am as I lay in bed listening to the silence. I strain my ears hoping to hear something, but all I hear is the echo of the silence.

One of my favorite songs comes to mind  hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping, and the vision that was planted in my brain, still remains, within the sound of silence”.- Simon & Garfunkel

I listen to it over and over again, hoping and willing the thoughts in my head to go away and that maybe the song will lull me to sleep.

There is something about the month of March, that no matter where I am or what I’m doing these painful thoughts come flooding to my mind. I used to fight them, but I have learnt that the more I fight them the longer it takes. It is like fighting a losing battle.

So instead I give into them and go down memory lane. Is it 3 years ago that I felt my heart was ripped out of my chest? Was it that long ago? Why does the pain still feel so raw? Questions still taunt me, but I’m no longer controlled by them or no longer have the burning desire for the answers.

I grab my old computer and decide to open the Pandoras box. It has been a long time since I have looked at these pictures. The forgotten picture folder. Looking at them I’m transported to a different time of my life, happy yet sad, in love but not loved.

I scroll past the few pictures I decided to hold on to, the weekend getaway, the first marathon, the random pictures we took together.  I keep clicking and I sigh with relief, just glad that March will soon be over, because this is my ides of March.

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Home no longer feels like home

I stand at the departure gate in Germany  with a heavy heart. Just the thought of going back to reality doesn’t seem so promising at this moment. The long 9 hour flight and the 5 hours of waiting for my next connection is plenty of time to adjust to the thought of being back. No matter how much I try, I can’t seem to find anything positive about getting back.

I survive the long flight and hope to breeze through Immigration, however,  staring at the stoney faced officer for 40 minutes while I stood in line, made me realize breezing through was a highly unlikely scenario, specially taking into account the current political situation here. Despite the Immigration Officer saying ‘welcome back home’, I don’t feel very welcome at this moment. The 10 minutes of interrogation on where, why, who I went with and what I did, doesn’t make me feel at home, it makes me feel like a visitor, in the place I have adopted to be home.

At the end of the 10 minute interrogation, I had so much I wanted to say to him, but I held back because orange is not my favorite color plus writing this from a jail cell didn’t seem too tempting.

I walk in circles at the airport trying to kill time for my next flight, only to notice that due to the weather my flight has been cancelled. After hours of going back and forth, they decide to put me on a flight that is landing at an airport 2 hours from where I should be. Fortunately I have some friends who agree to pick me up from there.  The waiting begins, the plane is on its way, the plane is here, the plane is having technical difficulties and on and on it goes. So almost 8 hours after I was supposed to leave, we finally take off.

Just when I thought that I had finally faced the worse part of the trip, I am told that they forgot to load my bags on that flight. Maybe I should just take a flight back to some other destination, since coming home is taking off to a bad start.

As much as I would like to say that my days got better, it seems it just kept getting worse.  My friends had driven my car for thousands of miles making me have to replace things in it. All my mail has been returned and on and on it goes.

As always when I feel overwhelmed with things all I want to do is go run. Fortunately I always carry  running gear with me, because I know that no matter what happens, a few miles on the road has a way of making me feel better.  I run past my usual haunts, including my old apartment and my favorite coffee shop, which makes me nostalgic and reminds me this that I used call this home. Right now with everything that is going on, it is going to be a while before I feel that I am home.

 

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Germany off the beaten path 

Have you tried to ingrain something in your brain so hard hoping that it will always be a great memory?

As I whizz past the endless fields,  the cattle and horses grazing, I try so hard to take in as much as of it as I can. I want to always remember these curvy country roads, the random horse-drawn carriage, mountain bikers and the endless motorcycle riders enjoying a beautiful spring day. I turn my head and I see the mountains dotted with houses and the vineyards on one side with a stream from time to time and an old church or castle if I look up in the distance.

The view while riding


Despite the fact that I’m not one for roller coasters or rides of any type, I don’t hesitate to get on the back of a motorcycle with my friend while he speeds down the  curvy country roads.

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Before we head out, he insists that I’m dressed up in bike riding gear, to me I feel like I’m ready for a bank heist instead of a motorcycle ride.


He  speeds on the autobahn and I try not to look over his shoulder at the speedometer. I accidentally catch a glimpse and I realize it is 150 mph or almost 240 kmph. I close my eyes for a second terrified, because I feel my palms break out into sweat. However, I realize that when I agreed to do this, it was because I trust him. I try to focus on how much I trust him right now instead of focusing on the speed. The high-speed might have lasted a few seconds, but to me it seemed much longer.

We stop at his usual haunt for coffee and cake in Breidscheid, a popular stop for motorcycle riders and also in close proximity to the  famous race track called ‘Nurburgring’, or also called “green-hell”.


The riding continues, while I try to take in as much as I can of this beautiful place that has captured me.

We are back in the village he lives in. After that exciting motorcycle ride, I want to go for a run, time to spend on my own and think about the fact that my trip is soon coming to an end and reality is staring at my face.

While pounding the sidewalk, I try not to think of all the things I will miss, running on open fields and through apple orchards or the quaint houses that line the streets. The church bells that chime every hour, the wonderful food and coffee. I feel the tears beginning to form, so instead I try to think of the stories I have to tell my friends and the memories and the friends I have made in the last 6 months.

The open field I go run

The quaint house I pass

The church where the bell chimes on the hour


After my run I head to the only coffee shop in the village, eating pastry, drinking coffee., trying to remember how exciting and wonderful the last 6 months has been.

Coffee and cake


Despite the language barrier and the miscommunication and sometimes even strange looks, while I run around the village, I’ve felt so comfortable here, something I’ve not felt anywhere else.

Even though I have been to a few countries in the last few months and Sri Lanka, which will always be home, I can say I have fallen in love with this place.

I may never come back here, but I will always be thankful to my friend for showing me Germany through his perspective and outside the beaten path.  I believe I’m gonna leave a part of my heart here in Germany.

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Home through my perspective

Spending the past 3 months in Sri Lanka with my family and friends has been incredible. It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to have constructive time with them. Typically my vacations there are for 2 weeks and mostly includes me being away spending time with my friends. However, this time I was able to cook and bake for my family and friends and spend time having long conversations in person.

What I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to reconnect with friends and the place that I used to call home for most of my adult life and still think of as home to a great extent. I guess it will always be home considering, I don’t get questioned as to where I am from or how I got there or any other questions I get typically asked in the US.

Walking around the streets of Colombo with my camera, gave me a new perspective to the things I used to take for granted. The crowded roads, the people standing around trying to make a living selling the most random things, the fruit and vegetable sellers and even the fish market, where you watch the boats come in from sea with fresh seafood you can purchase.

I tried looking at everything from an outsiders perspective and understand the quaintness that relates to this place. I could take pictures of the beautiful waterfalls, the beach and the wildlife, but I believe that the people have a more interesting story to tell. So here are some of my pictures of this place, through my perspective.

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A tuk tuk speeding down the road (a common mode of transport)

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Traditional dancers 

 

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This kid was helping her mother sort fish, but stopped to pose for me

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That is shrimp in their baskets being taken to get weighed 

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A roadside cobbler

 

 

 

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