Back in the USA

IMG_7932It’s been a little more than two weeks since we arrived back in the USA. We have spent the time reconnecting with family and friends, relaxing in nature, and trying to readjust to all of the little things that make the United States unique. The reality that we aren’t simply on vacation, soon to return to our home in Latvia, is starting to set in… not necessarily in a bad way; rather, in a time-to-move-on kind of way. We’ve recovered from our jetlag, and hearing English spoken all around us has started to feel familiar once again.  Continue reading →

Goodbye, Latvia

IMG_7906It’s a strange feeling, watching all of your earthly possessions disappear from plain sight as they are wrapped in paper and placed in boxes and sealed with multiple strips of thick packing tape, the bulk of which will not be seen again for the next year and a half. When they do make their next appearance, it will be in a land far away, a place completely unknown to me, but their job will be the same as always: to make the unknown feel familiar, to make a house or an apartment a home. Continue reading →

Living on Plants in Riga

IMG_7834When M. and I made the decision to transition to a vegan lifestyle nearly two years ago, I was initially concerned that making such a huge change would be extremely challenging, particularly considering that we were living in Riga, Latvia, where meat and dairy make up the centerpieces (and sides) of most meals. I wasn’t sure quite where to begin, especially when it came to dining out, but it didn’t take long for us to figure out how to make fantastic plant-based meals, where to shop for vegan ingredients and other products, and which restaurants offer the best plant-based dining experiences. For a long while now, I’ve wanted to put together a little “being vegan in Riga” guide, and now – just days before our two years here come to an end – I finally feel that I have a strong enough grasp on the concept do it. Continue reading →

Daytime Date in Denmark

IMG_7455In our effort to maximize our remaining time living in northern Europe, we have tried to take little trips here and there to see a few more places before we move back to the U.S. for a while. At the end of May, we took advantage of an inexpensive flight to travel to Copenhagen for the day. At just under an hour, the flight was smooth and easy, and best of all, as we were traveling only for the day, we didn’t have to deal with any bags. Our little daytime date turned out to be one of the most fun days we’ve ever spent together. We discovered that Copenhagen, even on a chilly, cloudy day in May, is a gem of a city! Continue reading →

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 →