Finish What You Start

FullSizeRender-3I thought I’d be celebrating today. Yesterday’s Riga Marathon was supposed to be The One… the one that would get me a shiny new personal record, a Boston-qualifying time… the one that would end our time in Latvia with a bang. Instead, it was a bust, and instead of celebrating, I am mourning. Mourning the loss of what could have been, the feeling of having spent countless hours of time and energy – literally blood, sweat and tears – into training for what turned out to be one of the most difficult running experiences of my life. It’s a heartbreak that rivals some of the broken relationships of my past, and one that some people may not understand, because after all, it’s only running. It’s an activity that I choose to do (and one that many people actually hate), and it is supposed to be fun. Why so much melodrama, you may be asking.  Continue reading →

Under the Israeli Sun

“The view of Jerusalem is the history of the world; it is more, it is the history of earth and of heaven.” 

–  Benjamin Disraeli

IMG_7238If someone had told me a year ago, or even a month ago, that I would take a trip to Israel this spring, I’m not so sure I would have believed him. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to Israel; rather, the thought hadn’t ever really crossed my mind. As an Arab-American, I grew up surrounded by people who had such strong feelings about the politics and conflict – on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian situation – that my impression of the area had become marred by thoughts and images of unrest, violence, and even fear. Continue reading →

Eighty Days and Trying Not to Count

IMG_6925With spring finally upon us (though not without a snow shower here and there) and nearly four months since my last post, our remaining days in Latvia are numbered. Eighty days remain, to be exact… enough time, in the eyes of Jules Verne, to circumnavigate the world, but not nearly enough time for me to reach the point of feeling ready to leave this beautiful place that has come to feel like home. Having never truly had a place I’d consider home, at least in the sense of a hometown or a simple answer to the question “Where are you from?”, it holds great meaning that Riga – which I knew almost nothing about before M. was assigned to work here – has become such a place of comfort. Indeed, I will miss it. We’ll be heading back to the U.S. for about a year, and following that, on to Yekaterinburg, Russia, where many new and exciting adventures surely await.  Continue reading →

Homemade Vegan Pizza

img_6339When I made the decision to go vegan more than a year ago, I thought that truly delicious pizza – one of my favorite comfort foods – had suddenly become a thing of the past. I was willing to give it up, though, because I feel strongly in my convictions to maintain a vegan lifestyle; however, I was delighted to learn that I didn’t have to. After many months of tinkering around with different recipes and trials on our weekly pizza nights, I am proud to share with you what I think is a pretty tasty vegan pizza recipe. It possesses all of the comfort and flavor of a traditional pizza while being 100% compassionate toward animals and the environment and completely free of cholesterol.  Continue reading →

Decide What to Be and Go Be It

img_5366When I decided to work part-time instead of full-time this year, I envisioned having all kinds of time to run, cook, write, and do all of the other things that full-time teachers never have the time to do. And though I have managed to keep myself quite busy in the last few months with a couple of hourly teaching gigs, it would be disingenuous to say that I haven’t had time to write. In fact, I have – there has been plenty of time, actually, but my motivation and inspiration to do so has been woefully lacking.  Continue reading →

Last Latvian Summer

img_4098As the sun rises later and sets earlier with each passing day, Mother Nature announces that fall has arrived, with her crisp breezes and turning leaves. Even though autumn is my favorite season, its arrival this year is a cruel reminder that our remaining days in beautiful Latvia are quickly slipping away. With only about nine months left in our tour here in Riga, our last Baltic summer has officially come to an end. We spent a good chunk of it with family and friends who came to visit us, and proudly showed them the city and country that have become our home over the last eighteen months. We snapped countless photos along the way so that we could forever cherish the true wonder that is summer in Latvia. Here are 50 of my favorites.  Continue reading →