Friendships lost and found

Isla and me decided to meet at Pebble beach. She always loved the beach. Probably because her name itself meant an island in Spanish – Isla. I faintly remembered our beach getaways during college days. It had been 10 years since our last rendezous at the beach. Since the Californian winds blew quietly that day, we decided to directly head down to the beach.

For the longest time we just sat quietly on the sand, staring at the deep blue ocean in front of us. The sound of the crashing waves being the only sound amidst the awkward silence. I suddenly remembered, this place was called “Pebble beach” and I saw all these pebbles lying around. I grabbed some pebbles from around and started stacking them one above the other. Isla joined in too. We both got engrossed in placing the pebbles on top of each other, trying to maintain their balance. While we were at it, I said, “You know, people stack these stones to make a..”. “Wish! I know”, she said and smiled. I smiled as well, amused at how she remembered this random thing I once told her.

Just like that, here we were, 10 years later, skeptical if we had lost our connection and wondering if our friendship could ever make sense again. Yet, we were back to being those same two kids who used to run off to the beach, where we would stack some pebbles together, wishing for future adventures together.

I didn’t wish for anything that day and I know she didn’t as well. Maybe, one of our wishes from the past did come true. Because here we were, reunited as the best friends we always thought we were.

Old habits die hard

They say, old habits die hard
When I look at you every time you walk into the room, I understand why
They also say, it takes 21 days to create a new habit
I don’t know which is worse, the 21 days of not looking at you
Or the 21 days of replacing you with a new habit
Because time for me has come to a standstill since the day I saw you
Maybe you weren’t just a habit
But a reminder of the love I have carried for you since then
So I take this love and let it walk away with you
Coz it’s always been yours to keep
Realizing that you don’t have to give up on some habits,
But gradually learn to just let them go
I simply walk out of the room, into the bright new world
Like a man with a heart full of dreams
Knowing there are things and places meant for me
Now, all I need is to form a habit that takes me one step closer towards my dreams

Ashwini

P.S: I took this picture while riding on a two-wheeler with my friend in Gainesville, Florida. Loved how the Spanish moss growing on these trees gives them a dramatic effect.

The guy who sold happiness.

They told me about a guy who sold happiness. Every person I met would talk about how the old man made them the happiest person in the world. I looked everywhere and he seemed nowhere to be found. I was left wondering if this town was full of crazy clowns. So, I stopped an elder man and asked him, if he had seen the guy around. He just smiled and said, “You will find him when you are really looking for him.”

I finally met the guy after a lot of soul searching, he was sitting under a tree with just a book in his hand. I simply walked towards him and asked him, if he is the guy who they say sells happiness. He said to me, “I’m not a rich guy to “sell” you any kind of happiness nor poor to take money from you. All I ever did was help the people realize that what they were searching for in the extrinsic world, was with them all the time. I just made them see the light within them.

I always ask them, what makes them the happiest – is it a thing, is it a person, is it a place? I tell them – don’t tell me if you’re currently happy with what you do, or how the person you’re with is great or about your beautiful new house or car. Don’t overthink it.

Tell me about that one thing which you know has always brought you pure joy, which without any doubts makes you feel like the person you truly are. Just place your hand on your heart and think about it. Because you can fill the void in your life with a lot of materialistic things. But, if you have that one thing in your life, even if everything else doesn’t work out, you will still have YOUR happiness with you, wherever you go, whatever you do.”

This guy never sold happiness, he simply helped people find it. 💫

About friendships that were lost

“Friends forever” were the words we sketched under our desks
For we never even thought our lives will ever be a mess
My partner in crime and my friend in need,
Me for you and you for me, that was our world indeed

We didn’t live for tomorrow, coz our present itself felt like a beautiful dream
We laughed our hearts out and celebrated each other’s wins
Holding hands, we ran with the wild winds, stuck with each other like glue
Look at us now, jumping into the phases of life without any clue

They say heartbreaks are tough but what about friendships that were lost
None of us can put a value on the pain they cost
For love may come and go, but true friendship is one of its kind
Which comes with an unsaid promise, to be together through space and time

To my dear friend, even though we may have drifted apart
You and our friendship had a happy place in my heart
And if I ever come across a picture of us, your hand on my shoulder and us smiling together
I’ll cherish the memories and pray that you don’t lose that smile, it’s all that matters!

– Ashwini

Take a moment..

Take a moment from your walk back home
And walk into that cozy café that you see everyday
For once, just grab an empty table there
The one where you see groups of friends laughing
And the couples that sit on one of the corner tables
Where the fairy lights brighten up a dark winter evening
And the decor still reminds you of the holidays
Where a cup of cappuccino comes with a heart made out of cream
Don’t forget to smile at the small gesture
Instead of grabbing your phone, grab a nearby book or get one of your own
Or simply look around and see the world around you
The world that doesn’t just exist in your head
But is living and thriving with warmth and love
So instead of pouring out all your thoughts today
Ask the lovely waitress to pour you another cup of coffee
The one that comes with a heart
And take a moment to lean back and just live! ✨

– Ashwini

P.S: This picture was taken at one of my favorite cafes in Brooklyn, New York called Pasticceria Rocco. Have been a regular customer since last 5 years and I simply love this place!

Choose yourself. Over and over.

We often talk about how we love a fictional character from a movie or a show. Have you ever wondered how easy it is to love every other thing in this world and yet, so difficult to love ourselves. We try to find meaning in the outside world, to search the light that will guide our way and give us a reason to live, something that will make us happy and feel good about ourselves. But, how often do we sit with ourselves and try to make sense of what we are.

You try to find the “good” side of all characters in movies, friendships and even relationships. And yet, you’re so cruel to yourself. To think that you’re unworthy of any good thing in this world. That you will never be as cool as the other person is. And yes, you can try to be that person, but you can’t escape who you are and what lies within you.

It takes a lot of strength to face your own demons – your insecurities, your weaknesses, your pain, your failures. And trust me, it takes an insane amount of courage to acknowledge all these things that make you vulnerable. If you can be kind to strangers and even stray animals, why not show some kindness to yourself? The first step to self love starts with accepting yourself. The good, the bad, all of it. These are the things that make you, YOU.

Accepting yourself empowers you to grow past your weaknesses. You need to tell yourself insane amount of times that “I am not just a product of my insecurities. Rather, these are just things that make me human”. What really matters is how you choose to get past it and focus on things that do bring the best out of you.

Honestly, the world is always going to have something to say about you – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Don’t let them define you or just blindly adhere to the world’s perception of you. You have the choice to live a life built on your own beliefs and choices. Just work on yourself. Believe in yourself. Choose yourself. Over and over. ✨

Love in the time of Corona

We are close to completing a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. How it has affected all our lives is yet to be fully measured. But I can’t seem to ignore the simple things that we usually forget to be grateful for. Most importantly, it helped us to recognize the value of love that already exists amongst us. Looking back, I couldn’t help but think about the people who reached out to me throughout the crazy phase and helped me stay sane.

There was a time when you couldn’t hug a friend but the 6 feet distance didn’t matter anyway. To see long forgotten acquaintances reach out to you to ensure you’re safe and healthy. The people who constantly checked up not only on your physical health but mental health as well. The long video calls that called for a happy hour or birthday celebrations and let’s not forget the Zoom weddings! For those staying away from family and friends, living a solitary life, how the anxious phone calls strangely seemed to calm down your nerves, being thankful to hear the voice of your loved ones. You didn’t feel the need to teleport through the laptop screen because the love that already exists was enough to endure through it all. It took us a pandemic to realize that the ones that care do find a way to show their love despite perilous circumstances.

Love could never be a weakness when all it has done is given us strength. To endure, through it all, together. These strange times reinstate that there exists a love that transcends space and time. There’s you and there are your people. The ones who cared and the ones who dared to love in the time of Corona. ❣️

P.S: I’m never gonna forget about the time when I was too scared to eat a slice of pizza!

What would you settle for?

I was watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and I came across this dialogue where the protagonist’s mother says to her daughter -“It takes a strong woman to stay by herself in a world where people will settle for anything, just to say they have something”. I feel it holds true for men and women both. We tend to settle not just in terms of people, but things, places, goals and dreams as well. In most cases, it happens so because you go for the easy choice or what society deems ideal for you. We are just so keen on having something to call ours that we forget to question ourselves – Do I even want it? Can I do better? Do I want to do better?

This also has a lot to do with circumstances that force us into settling. But it also takes a lot of courage to fight for what you want despite the circumstances. In the end, it’s really about choosing the battles you’re willing to fight for and dropping your weapons and armor to the ground for some. Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you that you don’t deserve something. No one. Not even yourself! Just because you’ve set your standards high doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a shot at what’s best for you.

To not settle for less also means being able to realize and recognize your own value. To not be afraid of your own shadow. In life, there won’t always be another person making you realize your worth. But it will be the person you see when you stand in front of the mirror everyday. You need to decide what is best for you. And you don’t have to lowball yourself just to be with someone or for the sense of some kind of accomplishment. Think about how many times before you choose other people are you willing to choose yourself. Remember, the pursuit of happiness always begins with you.

Thanksgiving 2020 Edition.

‘Tis the holiday season here in the US! There used to be a time when friends and families gathered together filling their homes with laughter and bellies with food. But this year’s Thanksgiving has definitely been different for everyone. With the changing restrictions and lockdowns in place, people are stranded thousands of miles away from their families in their tiny apartments. None of us asked for this change in tradition. But what we can do is try to carry on the spirit of Thanksgiving wherever we are and in our own ways!

It’s really easy to let your thoughts spiral into a frenzy when you begin to think about all your problems. But rather, let’s be thankful for having a roof over our heads, being able to eat good food and being surrounded with people who will uplift you no matter how far they are. In the first half of the year, I was really sulking about all my canceled travel plans. However, when I look back, I’m still thankful for the short road trips I was able to make while keeping myself safe out there.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the things that are still carrying on their traditions! The days with clear skies and sometimes even the cloudy ones. The sunlight that enters your room in the morning and the beautiful sunsets. Those star-studded skies at night and the campfires that kept you warm. The home cooked feasts and the ice-cream sundaes you had for dinner. Being able to sit and talk with your roommates and being able to hear you loved ones’ voice. And last but not the least, each breath that reminds you how alive you are!

What you are experiencing right now may seem crazy and out of control. And it’s okay to feel a little lost. But don’t forget to count your blessings and be thankful for everything that you do have.

Happy holidays! Love and light. 💖

PS: This picture was taken on my last flight, when I was flying back to New York from Texas in Feb, 2020. How I miss flying! But safety over everything.

Save your heart.

I saw ‘The Breakfast Club’ movie a few weeks ago and came across one of the most grueling dialogues – “When we grow up, our hearts die.” And when you ponder over it, being a grown up, you kind of start agreeing with it. Because many of us have gone through something that totally wrecked their lives at one point. Where it felt like all walls around you have come crashing down. But, it also makes you think about how you survived it all and made it to where you are right now.

Being ripped off your innocence and dragged out in the world of reality, it does change you. But, do you want to keep sulking your entire life? How long are you gonna push away your friends and family, the ones who keep loving you in spite of your ignorant behavior? Yes, bad things happen and yes, it sucks. And yes, you might think it’s very easy for me to say this rather than you practically doing so. But when you think about the bigger picture, how can we let someone or something take away what’s ours.

This heart that beats inside you everyday, it’s yours. And you have the power to rule over it, nobody else. Period. NOBODY ELSE. So, in the time of adversity, it’s okay to take your time to grieve about things that meant the world to you. But, also remember that you still have your whole life ahead of you. Let the throbbing of your heart remind you how lucky you are to live another day. And for that precious little heart of yours, fight for it’s innocence. Don’t let you past experiences turn you into a cold-hearted robot who doesn’t laugh anymore. Just open your heart and see how there are people out there who would cover you with a blanket of warm embraces and discover the fire inside you that will light up the whole world before you turn cold.❣️

PS: This picture was taken outside Raw Love – Tulum, Mexico. You just cannot pass by this café without taking a picture!