Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Video Podcast : Episode 7 : Three Actions to Help You Move Forward

I was so inspired by a YouTube video featuring Lisa Nichols where she talked about her rise to living her dream.

In my evolution, I am hungry to change the circumstances of my life. I am increasingly aware that if I want a different result then I need to do something different in every moment. My vision board is a bunch of post-its on my wall. The post-its have due dates, specific scenarios, meeting and speaking with certain people, and bank balances that I will manifest. In all my 43 years, I have attempted the typical collage-style vision board with pictures and that just didn't work for me. I love my post-its and I love my handwriting. I have excellent penmanship and there's just a connection between my mind and the actual writing of the vision of my life. Every day I want to add more.

As I make this transition, I realize that I have a lot of hang-ups and emotional things that have held me back for so long. Leaving Hawai'i and my old job was one of the ways I let go of things that are not authentically me anymore. So often we let life move us along. I was so used to reacting to things instead of being actively engaged in choosing the life I want to live. That's not me anymore.

A little over a year ago, I was melting down. I was riding in the car with my older brother telling him how trapped I felt. It was like my divorce had begun to peel away layers of my life that no longer served me. At that time, I had just watched that Steve Harvey clip where he talks about taking risks and doing the thing you love doing. My brother is driving and I am crying my eyes out talking about how my life is not what I had envisioned for myself. The future seemed bleak if I continued on the path that I was on - trapped by a job that forced me to comply with their strict code of conduct and my heart so weathered and broken. I was doing the ugly cry and my brother said, "Then jump! It's time to jump!" He set my mind at ease by addressing all of my concerns that were holding me back. In that moment, I decided to JUMP. 

Deciding to JUMP was the easy part. Undoing all the years of negative self-talk has proved to be the real challenge. I am a positive person to everyone else but myself. I can talk someone up and shiny them up for the world but I have a difficult time in talking myself up. Every day I make a conscious effort to say, 
"I can do this." 
"I got this." 
"I am brave and courageous." 
"I am talented." 
"I am loved."
Whether it's social or cultural conditioning that has made me only focus on the things that I'm not so good at, I want to end that practice now. I am going to celebrate all of the good things about me and walk in my most perfect truth. You should too. When we are sure of who we are, nothing anyone says matters. You take that power back from whoever or whatever you gave it to. Own your life decisions and actively engage in creating the life you want.

I don't care anymore about the criticisms of small-minded people. And some of my closest friends clown my attempt to change the circumstances of my life. I really don't need that type of negativity in my life so I keep my distance. I want to be surrounded by people who have achieved the things that I want to achieve. I want to be surrounded by people who are cheering me on and assisting me on my rise.

The morning I let go of the guilt surrounding my shortcomings as a daughter. If you watched the video, this will make sense to you.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

What is the Best Piece of Advice You Have Ever Received?

I had a conversation with an old friend this past weekend. It was different than any other conversation he and I have ever had. Without disclosing too much about him, I have fond memories of us that go way back. We may have lost touch over the years but we have never lost the closeness that we've shared. When we've seen each other in person, we are still the way we were way back when. The last time I seen him, I was picking food off his plate that he hadn't touched yet. He didn't seem to mind. I will always consider him a "bestie" and he feels the same way too. Up until this point our friendship has always been platonic. NO funny business at all. I suppose it still is platonic because he is married and a very devoted father to his children.

At one point, nearly two decades back, we were hanging out a lot. I was separated from my first husband and he was single. We would take these long rides around the island and just talk and laugh. We have always been able to relate to each other and there were never any awkward silences, ever! In our conversation over Facebook Messenger, he changed the condition of our friendship, somewhat by relating his emotions and feelings. I lifted his exact words from our conversation, "All those times we went cruising, we shoulda made love to this song." The song, you ask? I Wanna Be Loved by Eric Benet. I don't know how long he has thought of me in that way. If these are old feelings from way back when, why did he wait to tell me? If these are new feelings, why now?

Nothing can really blossom from his revealed feelings unless we rendezvous like hormone-crazed teenagers. That would make him an adulterer and me the skanky ho that wanted it. You know how you've been friends with someone so long, you take on a certain persona when you're with them. I was in his "friend zone" and never, in my mind, to be more than that. We have never crossed that line between friends and lovers. I was always very careful not to provoke it because I knew too much about him but mostly because I never thought he was attracted to me. He never tried either.

When we would hang out, we would traverse every topic on the planet from funny and entertaining to heavy and deep. On one of our long drives, I revealed to him my biggest dream - to write. We talked about way more than that and he was actually "with it" too. That was nearly 20 years ago and I'm just starting on the dream. For whatever reason we found ourselves in a conversation about why he and I never hooked up, I am grateful for the way he sees me. Lifted from our conversation, "Sorry about your marriage but I don't think men understand the responsibility and privilege of being with you." That right there! Am I wrong to think that he is seeing value in me in a way that my ex(es) didn't? And if so, why now? I can't lie, it brought tears to my eyes. I carry around this broken heart, trying to move forward but still feeling every bit of inadequate to allow someone to love me again. Who can love a girl that has been abandoned, twice? There must be something wrong with me, right?

He dropped nuggets of advice on me that seem to come from deep inside his heart. What he said to me makes me think that he wants me to have the fairy tale that I always talk about. I feel like his sentiments came from such an unselfish and genuine place and it kind of knocked me off my feet; so much so that I am thinking about it a day later.

HIM: For realz tho if us men were mature enough to appreciate a beautiful, intelligent woman like you is better than a million hoochies, you'd get the man you deserve.

ME: Maybe one day

So what is the bit of advice that he gave me?

HIM: Don't give up hope and for God's sake don't settle.

Simple! And though I've had tons of advice over my lifetime from dearest friends and family, for some reason, those words hit me like a ton of bricks. DON'T SETTLE! 

HIM: Rudy Giuliani said, "Never compromise your principles because the worst thing you can do is compromise and lose." You deserve a finished product at this stage of your life.

Okay who walks around with Giuliani quotes in his head? LOL

ME: On the real, I'm not looking for anything. I am going to do me. Make all my dreams come true.

HIM: If someone can add to those dreams then let em in. Easy to say but hard to do... but you got this. Remember Five Heartbeats? Your greatest writing will come once you have known pain.

His 'drop the mic' closing sentiment: Still wish we made love but will have to settle for loving you from afar.


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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Video Podcast 6 : My BFF Speaks

I am here to share the collective story of humanity. Every single person we meet and greet has a story that defines them.

I spent my birthday weekend with my BFF in Maryland and thought it was a perfect opportunity to get her in front of my camera to tell her story. People are so interesting. Life experiences shape us and mold us into who we are in every moment. I know her very well - her hurts, her trials, her childhood, her broken hearts, her joys, her triumphs. I know how far she's come and the hurdles she's overcome to get to where she is. It is no small feat. We have all traveled tough roads. The way we overcome the trials and elevate ourselves is to be celebrated. 

I will always see the best in people, at least I will always strive for that. When I hear someone's story, even if it's painful, I see how it has changed them and made them better. Even my own story of my life is fraught with broken hearts and yet, everyday I want to love and be loved. A broken heart will never stop me from giving love. And the energy that comes when you meet someone special cannot be manufactured. It's either there or it's not. 

I am, without apology, a hopeless romantic. 
I believe that everything is beautiful and everything has purpose. 
I believe that people are good.
I believe that everyone is capable of doing everything their heart desires.
I believe that the hurt we experience pushes us to be better and more compassionate.
I believe that love is every human soul's deepest desire.
I believe that love will find me again. Whole and complete.

And though I miss the loves that have left my life, I anticipate the beauty of the love that waits for me, that is searching for me too. The most beautiful sentiment I received on my birthday was posted on my FaceBook page.
"Happiest Birthday to this Tender Roni! 
You have taught all of us who know your heart 
how to be fearless in love."
Tender Roni was my "thing" in high school. I was a Bobby Brown fan and I used to say, "My name is Roni, Bobby's heart belongs to me." I would write it all over my school books and all my doodling from high school. But her perception of me... that I am teaching people to be fearless in LOVE. That's me! All day! 

I cannot say if my current love interest will break my heart tomorrow or in 13 years (like my ex did) but I am fearless. I am not afraid of the broken heart that may come in the future because I am going to cherish every single moment for as long as he will be mine. And I will not stop my heart from feeling the way that it does because he might break it in the future. No. I choose happiness now, without fear, without apology. And if this happiness extends into forever then so be it. Whatever troubles may come our way, I am fearless and I will stand by him through every storm and every joy. Love is!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Drive By Post : Birthday Weekend

Wow. Whirlwind of a weekend. Knocked me off my normal pattern for blogging, writing, and social media.

I had a really good time this past weekend. I hung out with old friends and family, met new friends, and partied like a rock star. This year has been a little different in how I celebrate Leo Season because I am devoting every spare moment to the writing of my novel. I started out writing a contemporary American romance. It is not that anymore. It has evolved into something more meaningful than romance and there are so many facets to it that I had not originally conceptualized. It is STILL a love story. I am in love with my body of work. And there are a million other stories tinkering in my brain and in my imagination; characters that are peeking from behind the dust in my mind. They are fighting to come out. This makes me sound schizophrenic. I'm not! LOL... but I do live in fairy tale land. Most story-tellers do!

I drove out to Maryland for my birthday weekend. My cousin met me there and we hung out with my sister-bestie at her home and in her hood. Before driving out to Maryland, I had written in my journal that I wanted to go dancing and oh-my-goodness I DANCED. My legs felt like jello, they still feel like jello, and I realize that I do need to go back to the gym. I love to dance. I may not be good at it but I really do enjoy it. I especially love it when I've been dancing with someone all night, having a good time, and that last slow jam comes on to close out the night. That is the best! I want to be with someone that loves to dance too... especially if he's good at it.

You never know what can happen in a single moment. It can change the course of your life. One simple act. One single moment can change your perspective on EVERYTHING.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 5: Random Topics

Asking the question, "What should my topic be on my next video?" resulted in random topics that were fun to sit and read. I think I might do this more often. It's fun to see what people want to hear about.

One of the topics I cover is bullying. I can only apologize to the people I may have terrorized as a child. I wish I could take back all that ugliness. I own up to it and I wish to say sorry to anyone who has felt intimidated or bullied by me. I have moved forward in life by vowing to never be that mean girl again. I consciously make an effort to be kind to everyone I meet. That is no small feat because I do admit that I have some prejudices. This is not something I am proud of but I do admit that I have these weaknesses.

Finding my way to being my most authentic has taken my whole life. I feel MORE me now than I have ever felt in a very long time. So often people struggle with who they feel they are inside and the person that their family wants them to be. I love my childhood and how my parents raised me and I have never wanted to disappoint them however, I find that being my most genuine means breaking away from the structure of my childhood.

I present this quote by Immanuel Kant from his writings in Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals:
To secure one's own happiness is a duty. 
If you happen to find yourself reading the entire text that comes after that quote, it really is an analysis on how people choose happiness and the things they trade/sacrifice for said happiness. The text gives an example of a "gouty patient" who sacrifices his health for the temporary happiness of indulging his appetite. The general desire for happiness influenced his will. Some make certain choices out of a sense of duty. Example - my choice to attempt to live the life of a devout LDS woman was more out of a sense of loyalty to my mother and the way she raised me. At the end of my life, had I continued down that path, could I have said that I had no regrets?


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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Candlelight (ZHAVIA Cover) by Sheyla & Naina

I cannot say enough about my two nieces. I absolutely love the young women that they are becoming. They are smart and beautiful and talented but most important, they are kind. I always harass them about going on The Voice or American Idol. They just laugh at me. I think the world of them. I want the world for them. I have always told them to work the dream instead of focusing on Plan B. Why go after that "degree" if what you really want to do is make music/act/broadway?

Work/Live the dream my sweet nieces.
There will always be time for Plan B.
Don't live in the gray area.

Sheyla - playing the guitar. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel.
Naina - on the left. Subscribe to her YouTubeChannel.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What Would You Like To Be Remembered For

The question, what do you want to be remembered for is a common question in motivational workshops. I have seen mastery classes that actually do an obituary for you, complete with your picture and your name. This is to prompt you to contemplate the condition of your life and if it is where you want to be. And if not, what are you going to do about it?

I am going to be 43 on August 4th. The older I get the more real mortality becomes. The magic of my youth and the idea that I will never get old is fading and I realize that I have not done the things I was put on this earth to do. It has been a struggle to make these transitions, to extend myself beyond the known boundaries of my life. I have no paid mentor telling me how to navigate the self-publishing world but I am not afraid. I am not afraid to fail. I am not afraid of falling flat on my face because I will push until I do the things that I have set out to do.

Beyond my personal goals though, I wish to impact the world in a positive way. So often, we are inhibited by our cultural and religious upbringing that says we must seek to elevate "the village" over personal growth. It does serve its purpose and some people's legacy will be that of sacrificing their own personal desires to serve the greater good. It has taken me nearly 43 years to put that type of thinking on the side and move out of the neutrality of my life and into believing and knowing that my life is powerful. I am not a bystander, watching life happen around me. I am empowered to do whatever it is I am called to do.

We read and see quotes like, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Every time I would see that quote I used to think that it was for the people who had power and influence, not for me. That quote was not for lil ole me in the middle of the Pacific, working the 9 to 5 everyday. And even if I never have the power and influence like Oprah, I can still effect change in my small part of this great big universe. I share Marianne Williamson's famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. 
Your playing small does not serve the world. 
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that 
other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 
And as we let our own light shine, 
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we are liberated from our own fear, 
our presence automatically liberates others.

I have struggled with identity. Who am I? I have been blessed, beyond measure, with a healthy imagination, a bright mind, a kind heart, and a optimistic vigor for life. Why am I settling to be just like everyone around me when I know in my heart that I am so much more. I am not saying that I am better than people around me. What I am saying is that I have spent most of my life being the same as everyone instead of following my imagination. I have worked so long at 'fitting in' rather than allowing myself to stand out and honor the gifts that I have been given. What good is a sharp knife in the kitchen drawer if you never use it? What good are kind words if it is never spoken? What good is a song if it is never sung? We are here on this planet, in this space and time, and it's time to use our gifts to truly create the change we wish to see in the world.

With that being said, I hope that at the end of my life, it will be said of me that "She lived a magnificent life."

Friday, July 27, 2018

Writing is Art

Navigating the self-publishing world has been an adventure. I am pushing myself beyond my known boundaries. The feeling is exhilarating and scary. I have not thought, not once, of failure and I am grateful that I am gifted with such a fierce optimism. That optimism has gotten me through some very rough patches and I know that it will carry me through the rest of my life.

People have asked me why I don't submit my manuscript to a publishing house. Here are my reasons:

1. TIME - I am not sure that they will move on it quick enough for me. They are looking for "trending" stories that are highly marketable. I think I am a great story-teller but I don't want to sit and wait for them to decide. I set a deadline for myself and I want to keep that deadline.

2. EDITING - Though I would appreciate feedback, I don't want my voice to be drowned out by an editor that wants my story to be "more marketable." The idea behind my writing is not just to sell books but to have my words and the stories make an impact on the reader.

3. CREATIVE FREEDOM - I have a clear vision of how I want the cover to be and how I want the text to be formatted.

I have not eliminated the possibility of pitching this manuscript to a publishing house. A dear friend of mine whose resume is quite impressive as a cultural expert (she was a consultant on Disney's Moana) has already put me in touch with Little Island Press located in Auckland, NZ. I don't want to wait though. I want to push this first novel into the print world. There are so many more that are coming after it.

People think that writing is cheap. And it is. It doesn't cost a thing for me to put my ideas on paper or here on the world wide web. But to bring it all to life costs money. Think of an artist that has sketched or has sculpted or has took beautiful photos. How do they bring it forward? They need the materials and then they need all the fluff to present their final product. Fluff = frames, columns and stands, printing costs, marketing -- it all costs money to present the end product to the world. And though sales and future commissions on their creative works might be a byproduct, that will not be realized for weeks or even months, sometimes years. Vincent Van Gogh probably had no clue the "value" of his work while he was alive.

I think of my writing just as an artist thinks of his or her pieces. I place my heart and soul into the things that I write and when I present it to the world, I make no apologies for the story that I tell. The best stories will change you, will push you to think of things differently.

So as I continue to weigh my options for bringing my first novel to life, self-publishing is still my chosen avenue. It is expensive -- from copyrighting the material to the actual publishing and the  marketing. I thank the people who have contributed to this first endeavor - donors who gave without hesitation. And though it is not enough yet, I am extremely grateful and humbled by their generosity.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 4: Who Influenced You?

In my pursuit of living my biggest dream of writing full time, I want to pay homage to the teachers and books that have influenced me and fostered my love of reading and writing. Children that attended Hau'ula Elementary in the 80's will certainly recognize the two teachers that I mention.

Mr. Ho, who retired a couple of years ago, was my third grade teacher. My parents kept all my report cards from grade school and I laugh when I read them. Mr. Ho would say things like, "She's smart but has a bad attitude." "She wants to be the teacher." I can't help it. I have this natural curiosity, even back then, and was and still am verrrrry impatient. I am not proud of my behavior but there would be times when my impatience made me look like a know-it-all. Mr. Ho would ask a student to read out loud. It drove me crazy that he would NEVER pick me to read out loud. So when the chosen student would read out loud, and he or she would stumble over words, I would blurt out the sentence that they were having a difficult time reading. I can see now why Mr. Ho NEVER chose me. I was not the one that needed help. I was so eager to read through the sentences that were so simple for me not realizing that I was probably intimidating the student that was actually reading. Sorry.

Mr. Ho also had story time where the entire class would sit down on the floor. He would be seated on a chair, front and center. He would tell us ghost stories. The Man With the Golden Arm was a favorite. I knew how the story would end but the way he told it was always so surprising. It is a cherished memory from Mr. Ho's classroom.

In the 4th Grade, I had Ms. Elly Tepper. There are only a few teachers throughout my years that had the ability to make EVERY student feel special. She is one of them. Not only did she inspire my love for reading and writing but she really pushed me to love my culture. I don't believe she is a Pacific Islander but the way she embraced our music, dancing, and cultural practices made me love it more.  4th Grade at Hau'ula Elementary back in the 80's was the designated grade for learning Hawaiian History. The whole year was spent learning cultural practices of my Hawaiian ancestors and it culminated in a week-long, end-of-year trip to Hawai'i Island (where the volcano is). While there we visited ancient heiau (temples) and visit important historical places that we learned about throughout the year. We visited Pele (the fire goddess) at Kilauea. Ancient fish ponds. Summer palaces of the royalty before the kingdom was overthrown by greedy Americans. We danced hula in hotel lobbies and at schools. It was really a beautiful experience and I wish I had my journals from that time but those were lost in a flood.

When Ms. Tepper needed to calm the class down and get us to focus, or we were getting for a test, or we were about to meet an important guest in the classroom, or we were getting ready for a performance, or we were about to get off the bus on a field trip, she gave the most inspiring speeches. The emotion that she was able to pull from each and every student with her speeches will always stay with me. Even if your home life was horrible, when you entered Ms. Tepper's room you knew that she only saw us as little kings and queens. I cannot remember the words that she said but I certainly remember the feelings that she was able to evoke from me. She would walk around the room, between our desks, the heat of the day invading the classroom, and would remind us of our nobility. She was a big fan of the Hawaiian word, ha'aheo. It means proud, like how the mountains stand tall and proud. And she would use that word to remind us how to be. She would tell us to be dignified, proud, and remember always who we represent with our actions. I am a crybaby and there were times that my eyes were filled with tears from her pep talk. I don't ever remember being scolded. She was always firm and direct, not condescending at all. She is a bright light in the world of education in Hawai'i.

I hope that you sit back and contemplate the major influencers in what you are doing today. Maybe reach out to them and let them know the impact they made on your life. I looked up both Mr. Ho and Ms. Tepper and they are not on Social Media. But I am determined to find a way to reach out to them to let them know their impact on me. If you know them, send them a link to this blog post.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Video Podcast Episode 3 : Celebrate Yourself : : Leo Season

I enjoy celebrating my birthday. I am not one to wait for other people to plan stuff for me. When I turned 16, I spent the entire day by myself at the mall. My parents gave me birthday money and the keys to my mom's orange Ford Aerostar van. EVERYBODY in high school knew my mom's van because I was always driving it and all of my friends were piled in it, even on our weekend cruising adventures.

The celebration of my birthday, like many people, is usually a day spent partying and having a good time. I used to celebrate 'the day' then it turned into celebrating birthday week and now has extended to the entire Leo Season. This means that I celebrate from July 23rd to August 22nd even though my birthday is August 4th. I make it a point to be a little selfish and do whatever I feel like doing. Celebrating for an entire month takes some planning but for the most part, I wing most of it. I don't worry about the money I spend on myself because I deserve it. I deserve to spoil myself. I worry about the money part later. You can always make more money but you can never go back and make more memories.

When people would ask me what I want for my birthday, I say the same thing. I like homemade stuff like chocolate chip cookies or banana bread. I also like earrings and ANYTHING with hearts on it or LOVE on it. I like smell good stuff like Scentsy stuff or Bath & Body Works home fragrances and candles. But my favorite thing? My favorite thing to get are handwritten cards and if they're accompanied with flowers -- even better! But if you are just itching to gift me something from Amazon, here is my current WISH LIST.

Best Video Card I ever received. The ONLY video card I ever received.

In a previous post, I touched on how I was raised to not value my physical beauty, that it was somehow bad to honor the reflection in the mirror. Also, kids are mean and can really mess with how a person views him or herself. I had to consciously overcome those feelings of insecurity in relation to my looks.

In similar fashion, I have to overcome the "training" I received from my mother to SERVE everybody before myself. I watched her put everyone's needs above her own, which ultimately stole her health from her. I have had to find the balance between the wonderful values I was raised with and the ME that says that I need "ME" time. So celebrating myself during the month of my birth, Leo Season, is about me making time to do ME. It's my most favorite time of the year.

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