Joy to the world!

I was literally screaming with joy and running towards the houses with all these colorful Christmas decorations and lights. The inner child in me was extremely happy and excited! I’ve come across people who might see the same things and just walk past by. And that’s okay too. But what I believe is, why not try to enjoy the small joys that come along your way? These small joys are the ones that keep the inner child in you alive, while you constantly worry about your adult life. Life doesn’t have to be so difficult, not as much as you think it is.

In the anticipation of what might happen in the future, we’re busy working towards our long-term goals. But, how about just taking a stroll (while wearing a mask) and just trying to spot the beauty that lies around? Don’t let the unsettling changes that the pandemic has brought upon us rob you from the joy of Christmas that has already arrived! All you need to do is just give happiness a chance.

Don’t let the worries about your future or the fear of your past stop you from enjoying what lies in front of you right now. Just like how I knew these Christmas lights will be gone by the start of the new year, I just had to go see them before they were gone! It’s all about trying to make the most out of where you are. Hope you too, find some joy along your way today. ✨🎄

Dyker Heights, Brooklyn

The year of throwbacks!

This crazy year is almost about to come to an end and I’m absolutely loving the holiday decorations in New York City (One of the houses on my block has been wrapped with lights in the shape of a gift box with a giant bow. (You can find the image below). December is kind of the month when we decide to look back and sum up how the year has been. I must say it has been a wild ride! But seeing the city light up with all the holiday decorations brings me so much joy. I literally feel like that kid who’s attracted to all shiny things!

Brooklyn, New York

I’ve decided to call this year – The year of throwbacks. These pictures from Mexico City remind me of the amazing memories I had from all of last year’s traveling. It was the beginning of December and after spending a week on Mexico’s sunny beaches, we were welcomed by sweater-weather in Mexico City, which was our last stop of the trip. I remember I was so sad about returning back to New York after this much needed long vacation. Thinking about it now, it suddenly dawned upon me that I was missing it so much, because I had such a great time there!

Mexico City, Dec 2019

So, here’s to looking forward to creating many more such happy memories that I can look back to! RIP to all the planned trips that didn’t happen this year. And grateful for the unplanned ones that did. I surely was disappointed about not being able to be at those places because of travel restrictions and safety concerns, but I would’ve never experienced Fall in the Northeast like I did this year. My photo album is filled with so many colors thanks to nature’s very own color palette. Sometimes, you don’t need to travel long and far for the happiness that you seek, cause sometimes, it’s just right around you.

The solitary tree.

Amidst the endless sea in the background and the tiny green shrubs, this tree stood out in front of me because it was the only solo component I could spot in the picture. It was just swaying along with the wind, glistening in the morning sunlight, lost in a world of its own. And I couldn’t help but capture this solitary tree, out on its own, so close to the sea and yet standing distinguished from everything else around it. What a beautiful sight it was!

During this pandemic, we all have been stuck at home and coerced into pondering over our lives. There have been those who were lucky enough to be stuck with their families and friends, whereas there are those who are locked away in solitude. There’s a high level of uncertainty associated in today’s time. When will it end? What will happen? So many questions! When you start asking one of these questions, your mind just rolls into a frenzy which is difficult to come back from.

Maybe we all need to learn from this lonely tree. So much is happening around us, all this information that we consume, trying to make sense of it all. It doesn’t have to make sense all the time, you know. Sometimes, you just need to stay put through any storms of uncertainty that boggle our minds. Maybe occasionally swing around when the wind changes direction. But, with a calm mind and a stubborn heart, when the strong winds stop blowing and all of this comes to an end, you won’t be standing alone, but you surely will be standing out from the crowd, shining through the brighter days. The Universe loves a resilient heart that never quits! 💖

Already missing the long and bright summer days!

PS: This shot was taken at Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts during the summer of 2020.

What a view!

I once saw a tv show where a guy visits an old mansion and gets a chance to meet the couple who live there. When he looks at the woman, he sees a beautiful young bride trapped in a big castle, married to a man twice her age. It breaks his heart to see this confined soul in this desolate place and he even offers to rescue her from the man. The girl only smiles at him thinking what a fool he must be. She tells the guy that she’s actually happy with the person she’s married to and that they both love each other. He cares for her selflessly and is even supporting her in continuing her education. In the end there’s a scene where the couple is shown dancing away in their vast empty palace, no one around, just the two of them, living a fairytale of their own.

Sometimes we are so obsessed about finding issues and problems in other people’s lives, we often tend to overlook the bubble they choose to live in. We are so eager to project our way of living life onto them, we simply disregard the other person’s choices and priorities. Everyone doesn’t want the same things in life. Wouldn’t it be kinda boring if that were the case? Some people are just genuinely happy with all the things they have and they’re wise enough to not care about what the outer world thinks about it. What may seem less to you, might be just enough for them. Only if we start being more mindful about other people’s choices!

People want different things in life and have different priorities. So what you may perceive as a bad situation, the other person might just be wanting that. We need to stop judging people for the choices they make and rather try to understand why they did so. And if you can’t understand it, the least we can do is try to respect their choices. We have all got this one life to live. Would you really throw it all away just for what others would think? Everyone deserves a life of their choice and there’s nothing wrong in choosing to live it your own crazy-but-fulfilling way.

My mantra has always been live and let live!

PS: The picture was taken at City Palace, Udaipur (City of Lakes), India in January, 2018.

Don’t ever cease to exist!

Don’t ever cease to exist, my friend.
Now, more than ever!
In times of despair and uncertainty,
When your own people seem to have abandoned you,
Even if these streets seem a little more lonely tonight.

Because when you don’t cease to exist,
But really begin to live even through the long dark days,
The light that you’ll emit will reach places far beyond
And to people who are seeking the tiniest ray of hope, the will to live.

They’ll all come back, some old faces and new.
And when they do, you’ll still be standing in all your glory,
Shining brighter than you ever did,
Leaving everyone wondering if you really are made of magic.

Just don’t ever cease to exist! ✨

– Ashwini Manjrekar

An ode to New York and all the New Yorkers out there! This post is for everyone who loves this city and also for all those who wish to visit it one day. It really is magical!

The new Times Square LED display. We are ready for the 2020 ball drop on New Year’s eve!

The power of manifesting your dreams.

When I was a kid, I used to draw a painting which had a small house with tiny hills in the background and the sun almost setting amidst them. This was probably one of the first paintings that we were taught in class. However, I always drew a bridge that would cross over a lake besides the house, with a few ducks (or what looked like ducks then) floating in the water. These extra elements in the painting were nothing but my imagination gone wild.

Today, when I look back at this picture which was taken a few weeks ago on one of my walks in my neighborhood, it just struck me that this picture resembles my go-to childhood painting so much! And I was in awe thinking about how dreams do come true. That 7-year old kid didn’t know much about what she wanted to be or do in her life, but all she dreamed of then, was this view. And here I was, standing awestruck in front of this beautiful scenery in real life.

I am a dreamer, always have been and will always be. I believe in the power of the will to achieve whatever goals I set my eyes on. The belief that says, if you really have it in your heart, it has immense potential to come true. And this exactly is what keeps me going everyday! The power of manifesting your dreams and the strength of an unfaltering, stubborn heart will take you one step closer to your dream. And along with the efforts that you put in, maybe one fine day, you too, will be standing in front of your dreams with eyes wide open and a fulfilled heart! 💫

Also, I’m forever grateful for all the beautiful sunsets I’ve witnessed in my life. They always leave my spellbound!

Be the light!

Find the light 

On the brightest of days when you’re basking in the sun
And through your toughest moments when you’re thrust into a void;
During days filled with laughter that were spent amongst friends
And the lonely nights that keep you awake.
  
Find that light!

 
Choose the light  

That guides you home while driving at night through a deserted road 
And the one that lights up your path while walking alone;
That lights up your home on holidays when family and friends are around 
And the only light that shines in your dimly lit room when you’re alone. 

Choose that light!

 
Be the light

That engulfs you with warmth when you’re out in the cold 
And the kind which burns you if you touch it too soon;
The fire that burns inside you and illuminates your whole body 
And the one that diminishes the darkness in other people’s lives.

Be that light!

- Ashwini Manjrekar


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The perfect fall leaf.

I stood at the beach, close enough that I could look down and see the empty shells in the crystal clear water yet far enough that my shoes didn’t get wet. I stood there a few feet away from everyone else with my back turned against the world, just staring deep into the abyss, breathing in the crisp fall air and watching the colorful reflection of the maple trees in the still water. The sun and the sky, the trees and their fallen leaves, the beach and the broken shells, it was all there right in front of me.

This was my last fall foliage trip since just in a few days, it was going to be past-peak for the autumn in Vermont. Throughout our entire journey, I was trying to find a maple tree with the perfect red leaves to capture. I was looking for a red maple leaf without any holes or dirt marks. However, the moment I set my eyes on the crystal clear water, I saw this one rogue red maple leaf right in front of me. It was nowhere close to what I was originally hoping to capture.

However, its worn, tattered texture stood out amidst all the pebbles. And while I stood there pondering over, it just struck me! Doesn’t this leaf symbolize what fall is all about? It teaches you about change. Just like how the lush green leaves change into different colors and shades, in our life too, we go through numerous changes, wanted and unwanted, both. But what we can do is adapt to the change. It felt like the leaf was conveying nature’s message to me that everything doesn’t have to to be perfect all the time, even your life. Sometimes, all you gotta do is take what you’ve got right now and still manage to find the beauty in what lies in front of you. Because in a week, all the perfect and the not-so-perfect leaves, they all were gonna fall from the trees and wither away.

So, here it is – my version of the perfect fall leaf. 🍁

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.

Pause.

I took this picture after I had walked on the other side of the road. When I turned back for a swift second, I saw an old lady park her car on the curbside to capture this beautiful view. While looking at her, I thought to myself, isn’t that how we all should learn to appreciate life? To work hard on our dreams and goals, but also learn to stop for a while and just stare at the view, acknowledging where we are right now. To not forget about how peaceful even the small things in our life could be, if we just give them a try. This lady must’ve possibly seen hundreds of sunsets in her whole life and yet, the simple beauty of today’s sunset made her stop the car and admire it.

Right now, especially, we are all going through something and it’s okay to feel lost. To not being able to understand the unpredictability. But don’t let that take away what you are able to feel and understand, what you’ve always known. Take a small walk (make sure you wear a mask) and just try to soak in the beauty around you. Maybe this is not the place where you planned on spending the whole year, but nevertheless why not try to have a good time where you are? There is so much of beauty in and around you, only if you begin to look for it, you will find it!

During this pandemic, I’ve learnt to be more involved in the little things that bring joy to me. Be it cooking, gardening or writing. And watching the sunset during my evening walks only makes me feel grateful that I’m being able to feel good, just by admiring the beautiful sky, by smiling at my neighbors, by getting excited when the flowers start to bloom from the plants I grew, trying my hand at baking and laughing at my failed pizza-from-scratch attempts (I’ve gotten better now!). I believe that until I’m able to do so, I know things will turn out just fine.

While you’re striving so hard to achieve that big dream, don’t forget to pause for those tiny moments of happiness too.