wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look in the mirror each morning and be inspired by yourself? be inspired to eat well and not just sit on your butt all day, as apposed to reading weight loss magazines, weight loss blogs, weight loss stories, stories about other people finding inspiration through some means? wouldn’t that be nice?
to stand in the mirror and be inspired by myself, what I wouldn’t give for that…
because life would be easier then. simpler. i’d realize each morning it’s all about me. i can do this. i will do this. today is my day. it’s about self improving yourself, and not looking to others for inspiration. to listen to what matters to you; what do you want? you can do it.
inspiration from others is slippery and whimsical. it can vanish the second things get hard. food is in front of you, or the going gets tough. to capture your life’s ‘wants’ and ‘desires’ and turn them into your own, personal inspiration, to change your own life, each morning, just a little bit towards he better, my god, I wish I could do that.
There are some seriously fashionable tourists in Vietnam. They’re really cramping my whole “whatever-I’m-traveling-style.” Also, I only brought eyeliner and mascara with me (because Julia Roberts said those two things make a girl feel prettier), whereas other girls seem to be carrying their MAC makeup artists in their bags.
Free WiFi is everywhere in Vietnam. Slash, the world. EVERYWHERE. Facebook is blocked here, but being the magical Googler that I am, I decoded my IP to Washington. #win
White people tourists seem to all go to the same white people tourist spots. Like, right now, I just had lunch in a cafe-type-place, and I could honestly be in North America. #TouristLose
After three skype dates with my parents I have managed to hide my nose piercing. I wonder how long I can fool them…”sorry mom, I lost all my photos of that trip…”
Motor bikes. I must learn and conquer the motor bike.
Steps to losing weight: Step One —>go to Vietnam and be too cheap to buy food. That being said, the food I have eaten in Vietnam has been some of the best of my life.
I am officially vegetarian. Have been since I left. This includes all seafood. I know, I know, how will I culture myself in food? But for reals, I’m the world’s pickiest eater, this way it’s easier for everyone, and I won’t offend anyone. That being said, I swear my hair is falling out at a quicker rate due to my new vegetarianism.
Hanoi, Vietnam is so organized compared to Kathmandu, Nepal. Road names? Check! House numbers? Check! Cars on their side of the road? Somewhat Check! Real toilets? Check mate Hanoi, Check mate.
So in Nepal, I took a second 2 day hiking trip with a friend to a monk monastery. I walked through some of the smallest, poorest, little villages I had ever seen to get there. Then I arrived at the monastery (please keep in mind this story is from my perspective) and the wealth of the monks compared to the people was astronomical. I was shocked. The monks lived in a mansion-type place, all with bling-bling gold watches, iPhones, and even iPads(!)… just, compared to the people in their area? they were kings. Then, when I went to the Hyatt, I saw 3 monks there!! Including one in the spa, and one on his facebook. I was so confused… as this went against all my white-person-naive-traveler-thoughts of monks. So I asked a local person. And he goes, “I don’t like it. One bit. The monks take the people’s money. It’s corrupt. Other religions. They’re good. Budhusism - it’s corrupt. They shouldn’t be at the Hyatt with our donations. They buy things too many things with donated money.” I told him I didn’t think it was just Buddhism, but all religions, in some form or another, someone, somewhere is benefiting. But yes, I thought that was very interesting as I always respected the religion of Buddhism thinking it was one of the last decent religions left… but I sadly saw otherwise. I also (remember folks: my blog. my thoughts) changed my view on Buddhism… dare I say it? I found it a fairly self centered religion. Like, it’s all about bettering one’s self. Not really helping others. Which I personally found was reflected in the areas. I know Laos is quite Buddhist too, so I’ll be interested to see if my (very open) mind changes once again. ((note: I am really not religious in any way, so these are just my observations).
So when I quit my job, and was hiring the new person for my own my position, my boss told me to, “hire someone just like you, well, someone just like you after your trip." I didn’t understand what he meant. I now do. I am gaining a backbone while traveling - one has to, I suppose. It’s good, as I seriously suck at sticking up for myself and I let people walk all over me the whole time. For example one of my friends owes me $540, and I have no backbone to ask her for it…. ugh. And, I worked at my job for four years and never had the balls to ask for a raise, even though all the guys made way more than me doing the exact, same, thing. UGH.
I was sent one of those “anti-blogger” sites yesterday, and guess who they mentioned?! Me! me! me! They were insulting me, which truly didn’t bother me (whatever, I like boys, and am young and sexy (ha!) so let me enjoy my life. jeeesh), actually, I was amazed at how closely they had followed my life through Little Blog to discuss it in such detail. People have a lot of time on their hands… like, a lot.
Traveling is not a vacation. Every day, night comes. Every day. Which means every day you need to find a place to snooze. It gets tiring. The moving of the things, the searching, the looking. I’m somewhat thankful for rain in Vietnam - allows some guiltless down time.
So my last day at the Hyatt in Kathmandu I did nothing. Literally, nothing. Which lead to me being bored out of my mind and missing home a lot, but anywho, when one sits by the pool for the day alone, it invites others to come chat. And chat the rich people did. I spoke to a couple from Alberta, Canada who were flying around the world in their ‘private jet,’ and he said ‘private jet’ to me so nonchalantly as if everyone and their mother had a private jet. I, do not have a private jet. And again, just like in Croatia, I find very rich people like wearing all white. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s to let us average people know they have the money to wash their super-white clothes a lot, because they are always so, so clean.
Then, some other super rich people invited my friend-less ass to dinner with them at the Hyatt’s most expensive restaurant. I couldn’t say no as I had just been saying how I had nothing to do. It was a 5 stars fancy-pancy restaurant, and I was so awkward in my leggings, with my messy hair, nose piercing, no makeup, and green scarf, but then, when the bill came, I had to pay for myself. Which I realize, sounds bad to say, but really, isn’t the protocol to pay for someone’s dinner if you invite them to a restaurant, when obviously it is well out of their usual price zone? Me thinks so. Even after the conversion it was so pricey and made me feel sick to my stomach I had dropped that much on a single dinner. Sigh…
Leggings. I have embraced leggings. With all my heart I now live in them, and am sad I thought was too fat in Toronto to wear them. They’re amazing… !!
Yesterday in Vietnam I saw a really large tourist (from her accent - North America) girl. I stood behind her in line to get food. I was rude and stared and ease dropped and was in awe of this girl. I’ve wanted to travel (to do this trip!) since I was 18. I would never (ever!) have gained the courage to had I not lost my weight. I was way too self conscious when I was bigger. Even now, still having the last 25 to lose makes me self conscious - I constantly think the local people are judging me, the “fat tourist” girl wobbling around their hood. Ugh. Anywho, I was impressed. I am impressed. I wish I had lived my life more when I was bigger. Not always being scared of the world. Scared of life. Because I was. When I was 200+ pounds I felt I didn’t deserve to do awesome things. So yea, I was rude and stared at this girl yesterday, but was impressed she was in Vietnam. Impressed she was traveling.
Thank you so much for all the votes!!!! I lost, but second place is so the first loser - so win!! And, for all those who have asked lots (lots!) of photos and posts are coming about Everest. A rainy day in Vietnam will do that for you… :)
When I went to London a few weeks ago I didn’t like it that much. I was ready to love London, just like when I lived there in 2003. But this time around? Not so much. This little detail has greatly thrown off my life plans. I was going to move to London. Create a home for myself there. A life. But now? I have absolutely no clue where I’ll end up…
Back in Toronto? Very unlikely. Although I miss the people there more than words can describe, I have not once yearned for Toronto’s streets. Toronto and me were just not meant to be.
Then I met a lovely couple from Edinburgh. They loved Edinburgh, and spoke very highly of it. What it lacks weather wise it makes up for in history and neighborhoods. And jobs. Apparently lots of jobs there. Bonus points for that, as I’m, ummm, currently unemployed.
Then there is Melbourne. I’ve always secretly thought I’d love Melbourne. True, it’s not directly situated on Australian’s golden beaches, but they’re just a short drive away, right? Right. And wanna know a secret? I got my Australian work visa in place. Y’know… just. in. case.
Hmmmmm. Decisions. Decisions.
It’s weird having the world at my hands. What city do I want to live in? I actually don’t think my ideal city exists…
English Good Beaches Big Mountains History (oh boy, I loooovvveee history) Metropolitan/Culture Warm weather (no snow!)
See? It’s hard. I suppose I’ll just see where I end up, see where life takes me. Excited. Nervous. You name it, I am it.
Mastercard was right, I have the whole world in my hands, but choosing a city to move to, is proving harder than I thought.
Way-back-when I was thinking about my trip, choosing the countries, picking places to see, things to do, I knew I wanted a ‘vacation type’ county to visit post Berlin marathon, but pre “strenuous” hike to Base Camp Mt. Everest. All my running friends were heading to Munich for Oktoberfest, but after seeing the prices of the the beer tents and accommodation, I called that Boy up and on a whim said, "what about Croatia? I’ve always heard Croatia was beautiful. And cheap!" The next day we booked flights and a car, which was all the planning we did for the entire trip, and I think what made the trip more than perfect.
Transportation? A Hyundi Accent - £240 for the week
Accommodation? We winged it, wherever we saw a place we liked, we just looked for a little, blue “apartment” sign, and knocked on the door to the people’s house. We found some gorgeous places averaging averaging €40/night (this was in low season).
The Food? Delicious. But then coming from me, that means nothing as I love all food everywhere. But if you like steak and wine and ice-cream, Croatia is the place for you. Granted, we didn’t exactly eat on a “backpacker’s budget,” but if you walked into small beach front cafes - they were still quite cheap (at least for low season).
The Beaches? I’m a huge (huge!) beach person —> if you look at my trip’s itinerary, you’ll see I’m actually hitting up some of the world’s best beaches because I love them that much. Croatia’s beaches were rocky, and pebbly, but the water was spectacular; super blue and super clear. If you found a groove (Homer Simpson style) in the rocks, the beaches were quite nice, but the pebbles did hurt my feet a little. I don’t want to persuade anyone not to go to Croatia - as I think it’s a “must see” country, but the beaches did photograph better than they were.
Would I recommend it? Yes! But not in high season (July - Aug). We went in September which was perfect! The weather was 28 or 29 degrees every day with clear, blue skies, and there were hardly any people around, which meant everything was cheap. I knew the water would be blue-blue-blue, but what I didn’t know about Croatia was that they have a spectacular mountain range along the coast. I seriously think the drive along the coast must be one of the most beautiful drives the world has to offer - soaring mountains ahead, blue seas next to you, and little islands dotted around everywhere. Spectacular! Not to mention the ancient cities looking like movie-sets around each corner.
Split, Croatia Highlights (My Fav City!)
If you ever find yourself in Split be sure to head up the Belltower (10KR/person or $1.80Cnd makes it VERY worth it - don’t let the sketchy stairs scare you)
Cliche Croatian scenes everywhere you looked.
This was our balcony the 1st night - looking out over roofs of Croatia.
It looked like a movie scene (note. we had dinner on that patio right there. NOM)
Gorgeousness everywhere you looked. This was a 293AD palace, which is the main attraction in Split.
Hvar (island off the Coast) Highlights
Coastin the Coast Highlights
Dubrovnik Highlights! (Must. See. City!!) Despite the city being crazy with tourists, it’s seriously an incredible place to go as the entire city sits in an old castle.
(those may, or may not be drunk eyes… )
Primosten Highlights (I literally googled: “best beach town in Croatia” and then we drove there)
Now? Over a month past the fact, looking back on the Berlin marathon genuinely sparks good, positive feelings, but that day, September 25, 2011 was a hard day.
A really really hard day.
When you train for a marathon you devote a lot of hours, blisters, sweat, chaffing and early mornings into this one, single day. And then within a few simple hours? it’s all over. Done. Finished. And those few early morning hours, from that one single day, will define your past four months of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice.
The Berlin marathon, my Berlin marathon, in no way reflected my training season.
In no way.
My training season didn’t skip a beat, in fact, it was one of the few schedules in my life I had stuck to nearly to a T. I was ready. Physically and mentally for that marathon, I was ready. But then that day came, September 25, 2011, and as it turned out, it just wasn’t my day.
As you know, my goal was simple: marathon in under 5 hours thankyouverymuch. Doable. I had been running my entire training season at a 4hour 30 pace. A half an hour buffer? Excellent. I can soooooooo do this.
There were 16 people from my running group in Toronto running the Berlin marathon with me…
Walking to the start line in the morning
The morning was beautiful, and just like every other marathon I’ve run, the air was filled with excited, nervous marathoners…
Once I arrived at the marathon grounds, it was a little hectic —> Berlin hosts the world’s 4th largest marathon, with nearly 35,000 runners participating in the day and of those, 78% are men and 22% are women. From my personal experience? Berlin was a very (very!) poorly organized event for us women. Everything was better for the men, but after fighting my way to find bag check, and searching for toilets with less than an hour lineup, I finally managed to find my coral. It looked like the above. Packed. But still, at this point, I was feeling ready, I was feeling good, I was excited! Especially when a nice guy from the Baltics (whose name sadly escapes me as I type this) recognized me because of this blog(!). I spoke to him for a while, and as he was running his first marathon, which I think is always the best, thing, ever, I got SUPER excited!!
Slowly we shuffled to the start, and then BOOM! suddenly I was running. I was feeling good, nay great, and on pace for my 4h 30min marathon. Rob somehow found me within the crowd and ran with me for a bit, but as my 1 minute of walk fast approached, I waved him goodbye, and wished him luck.
The route was beautiful, the sun was shining, and the crowd was in full force (nowhere near the awesomeness of Chicago, but still fun!). I was feeling good. I was feeling fast… I was rocking my Garmin, and I was flying through my 10s and 1s (where I run 10 minutes, then walk 1. A technique I always do for 15k+ running).
Then the 10k mark passed.
And shit. What the hell was that?
It’s always hard to explain pain through writing, or even out loud to a doctor, for that matter, so I’ll try my best, but chances are this won’t convey the extreme pain I suffered in my right side from 10k (6.2 miles) to 42.2k (26.2 miles).
I’ve had cramps before… workout cramps, lady-style cramps and cramps for no reason. But this cramp, during my marathon, was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It took my breath away with each sharp jab of pain and literally nearly made me fall over when it first hit me. It forced me not only to walk, but to stop to get my breath back. It was bad, really bad. I wondered for a good 20km whether I would have to leave the race to get my appendix out, or something… as I figured something was seriously wrong. It was incredibly frustrating to want to run, but be forced to stop(!) from the pain in my side. Eventually (like, at 37k) I figured out if I deeply inhaled, then slowly exhaled, it was bearable, and I could muster up a slow, continuous jog.
I had anticipated knee pain. I had anticipated my toes going numb. I had anticipated being tired. I had anticipated stomach issues. But this? this I hadn’t planned for. I rarely get cramps while running, so why one hit me with such force the day of my marathon? I’ll never know. The pain in my side actually continued for about 3 weeks post race. Sometimes when I was walking down the street in Croatia I’d have to pause for a second and wait for it to leave. Long, painful story, short, I was in a lot of pain during the marathon, but I battled through it, and finished. ((note: all seems good in the world of my stomach these days. I never went to a doctor about it (i hate doctors - still have that childhood fear of them calling me fat), but it eventually passed and I haven’t felt the pain in over a month))
I hate excuses. It was what it was. Just a bad marathon day. And as you you know, I crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 10 minutes, just shy of my 5 hour goal, but I was devastated - despite still having finished after having moments where I thought I’d have to drop out. But it’s over now. Done. And I’ve moved on… (already planning my spring 2012 marathon! One in Australia, anyone? anyone?)
I truly think my running skills are better than a 5 hour 10 minute marathon, but such is life, and I know my time will come when I do cross the marathon finish line with a “4” in front of my time. Until then, I’ll look back on the Berlin Marathon with positive thoughts, because as Henry Ford said, failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely, so that’s what I’ll do when training for the next one, anticipate not-planned-for things going wrong, and have 3 goals set, the 3rd always being “simply to finish” as I was so fixated on that stupid, “under 5 hour” goal, that I forget just completing the marathon distance of 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) is impressive. Did you know the average woman runs a full marathon in 5 hours and 10 minutes. I am average. That’s not a bad thing. Actually, I’ve rarely in my life been “average,” usually I’m the slowest, fattest, etc. so “average” isn’t too shabby at all.
When my boy roommate and I were going through our moving-out-awkward issues, he did tell me he “admired” me for making my goals and aspirations so public. He told me he never shares anything with anyone in case he fails, and he commended me for being so open. I didn’t quite understand what he meant. I now do. Failing publicly sucks. It’s awful. With close family and friends, I can deal with it… but to anonymous readers on my blog? It was really hard…
The idea of signing into Tumblr and sharing with my very-public-blog that I didn’t make my goal time was nearly the hardest thing of not making my goal. I wished so badly after crossing the finish line that I didn’t have a blog, that I hadn’t shared my goal, that I didn’t have to tell anyone. But I did, and y’know what? As it turns out it didn’t really matter and I’m pleased I at least tried and failed, as apposed to failed to try.
2012 I hope to run at least two marathons (Iron Man too?), and once again, I’ll set that ever-so-public goal of, “Run a marathon in under 5 hours,” because that’s what I do, I share, and try, and try and share, and I truly think I’m better a better person at the end of each day for it… win or lose.
Here some photos for people who prefer photos to words (ie. people like me):
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey - and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”— Bob Moawad
It’s weird. And honestly? I really have no idea where to start. How do I explain the last 3 weeks of my life? 16 other people in this world can relate, but to a reader at their computer, or my family and friends? I don’t know. I’ve seen some of the most extreme poverty of my life recently, and some of the most breathtaking views the world has to offer. I’ve met an Australian boy who infatuated me, kissed me below Everest, and opened my eyes to other perspectives in the world. I got my nose pierced, removed my pearls, and met a ridiculous number of Australian travelers (seriously – is there anyone left in their country?) who I became fast and good friends with.
I had this life experience that won’t ever be able to be captured in words, or photos, or explanations, but it changed me. Forever. 16 days in the Himalayas – my God, that’ll change anyone. There were nights when the altitude was so high that rotating in my sleeping bag left me gasping for air, nights where I’d stare at white mountain peaks, outlined by the moon, and realize how tiny I am in this world, and then nights when I lay in bed and couldn’t believe the life I was living.
Every choice, every decision, every moment I’ve ever had, had lead me to where I was. Where I am. Every fight. Every struggle. Every fork in the road. It was all there for a reason.
I write this as the clock strikes midnight in Kathmandu, Nepal, and I just realized “October 23” means I’ve been gone from my home for exactly one month. One month. Yet it feels like an eternity. I ran the Berlin marathon. Drove the coast of Croatia. Fell in love. Loved London. Hiked for 16 days to Base Camp Everest. Met another boy who changed my reasoning. And realized this isn’t my life by chance. This is the life I created. Am creating.
There is nothing in this world like accomplishing a goal. Achieving something you thought not possible. Achieving something nobody can ever take away from you. My 3rd full marathon. Reaching Base Camp Mt. Everest. Those are mine. I did that. I planned it. Life is what we make it. Always has been. Always will be. And I know it’s all sorts of lame, and corny, and taboo to say, but I’d be lying if I said otherwise, this all started when I decided to get healthier and lose weight, because it was through that that I proved to myself that I can, indeed, do anything I want in this life I lead.
the plates had just been cleared and the table was finally empty. i put my hands on the table, and just as I had wanted, he placed his in mine. i smiled. he smiled. and i felt his leg brush mine. just then i glanced over and saw the little girl, a table over, watching us. she quickly smiled and looked away, embarrassed she was caught. but i kept watching her, out of the corner of my eye, and she kept watching us. giggling, smiling. observing. she was fascinated by us.
i remember being her so well. seeing couples when i was little. boys and girls together. holding hands. stealing kisses. touching. when i was a little girl i would watch couples in their twenties with great intrigue. they all seemed so old. so fabulous. so happy. i would always watch them and then imagine my future self. at night, replaying what i hoped for with my barbies and “ken.”
tonight, watching the little girl watch us, made me feel a little old, but also smile, i often think my life is nothing like my eight year old self imagined, especially how up-in-the-air it is with this trip, and the whole i-am-so-far-away-from-marriage-babies-pensions-houses-real-life thing, but tonight, at dinner, i realized i was exactly the woman my eight year old self imagined she would become - fabulous and happy.
fanta, maps, sleep, cookies (sorry - “biscuits”), wine, and then some more wine, beer, suntan cream, pebbles, stolen kisses, mountains, ferries, red tiles, feet up, windows down, sunglasses, steak, pizza, dancing, more steak, mcds searching [and failing], hand holding, water bottles, real coke, private beaches, people watching, small town observing, stairs, omigod so many stairs, clear water, kuna to euros to pounds to dollars, jagerbombs, laughing at kids, day drunk, black out drunk, dancing, singing, towels that feel like cardboard, missed ferries, world’s most expensive taxis, sunsets, open roads, breathtaking views, irish pubs, ice-cream cones, photos, warm water, sunny skies, dresses, marble, flip flops, passports, cable cars, old lady eating shell fish right out of the water, pink bikinis, man sherpa, chewing gum, super hot showers, then super cold showers, castle exploring, alley way finding, bell tower hiking, radio station seeking, life.
dancing in my towel to plan b, drinking red wine, and getting ready for dinner in a castle. just gonna go ahead and pretend this is my life forever.
oh! and also. broke out the bikini for day number two of i don’t give a f*ck what you think. the operation went rather well. the boy is pretty great too. and flattering. and awesome. we laugh a lot. and-and-and, i had a delicious gelato today before swimming in crystal clear water, but post taking a cable car to the top of a mountain to look out over the city.
i am happy. so happy. drunk happy at 6pm (truth.) and this. this is the life that surrounds me at this moment, so you better believe i’m basking in every last drop of it.